Blowing raspberries: A developmental milestone for babies

Many of the most important milestones in a baby's development are seldom mentioned by parents -- or even pediatricians. Simple steps in development, like blowing raspberries, are among the unsung milestones that deserve more attention from parents and caregivers. A baby's ability to "blow raspberries," or make bubbling sounds with her lips and tongue, indicate proper development of budding speech skills and communication. Here are some facts worth knowing about blowing raspberries as a developmental milestone in babies.

1. It helps her learn to speak. According to Dr. William Lawrence, Jr., a baby learns to use her tongue, lips, and mouth correctly by blowing raspberries. These early, pre-speech vocalizations help the baby to master control of the tiny muscles responsible for speech and communication. Although it may seem like a fun, silly behavior, it's actually critical for her overall, ongoing speech development.

2. Parents should encourage raspberry-blowing. When your baby blows bubbles at you and makes those humorously flatulent noises, don't try to discourage the behavior. Remember that it's a big step in her development. Respond by blowing bubbles right back, encouraging a primitive conversation of sorts. The more you communicate with your baby in this early stage of language acquisition, the more likely she is to quickly develop related skill sets.

3. Babies rarely blow raspberries before 4 months of age.

In general, a baby can't blow raspberries until she's mastered a few other pre-language skills. She will usually learn to coo, laugh, and turn toward a voice prior to attempting bubbling sounds. Although a few exceptional babies might blow raspberries before four months, four months is a far more typical age.

4. Expect your baby to blow raspberries at around 5 months of age.

The mean age for blowing raspberries is 5 months -- around the same time that you can expect your baby to sit up with assistance and transfer objects from hand to hand. Although this is the most typical age for blowing raspberries, there is, in fact, a very wide range of normalcy.

5. Consult an expert if your baby doesn't blow raspberries by 8 months of age. Babies with normal neurological and mental development should be able to blow raspberries regularly and consistently by the time they reach eight months of age. If your baby is eight months old and still doesn't blow raspberries, consult his pediatrician. His doctor can evaluate him for emergent signs of speech delays or neurological problems.

Click here for a comprehensive list of developmental milestones for babies.

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