When Do Babies Start Cooing?

Hearing your baby’s first sounds is a treasured moment! And did you realise that this is your little one communicating with you? Even as a newborn, you’ll notice adorable little sounds from them, such as crying and gurgling. But when do babies start to coo and make other sounds, and what is cooing? Read on to find out more about this exciting milestone, when it occurs and how to support your baby’s language development.

What Is Cooing?

Cooing refers to single-vowel sounds, such as ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’. Sometimes the noise your baby makes sounds like the word ‘coo’, which is where the action gets its name. A cooing baby is making their first attempt at expressive language, which is why this is such an exciting development milestone for your little one!

Though you’ll likely hear other baby noises before cooing starts, common crying and grunting are sounds that originate from the chest. Cooing shows that your baby is developing the muscles needed for talking and is learning to control these muscles.

Cooing is obviously adorable, but why do babies make noises like this? Baby cooing is a way for children to communicate with you and express happiness and contentment before speaking. They’re also trying to imitate the vowel sounds that they hear when you’re chatting with them. Your little one might also coo for self-entertainment or to get your attention.

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When Do Babies Start Cooing?

Baby cooing may start when your little one is around 2 months to 4 months of age. But every child is different and develops at their own pace, so your baby might start to coo earlier or later than other children, and that’s OK.

Like every other language milestone, baby cooing takes time to develop. Before your little one starts cooing, they are able to identify you by your voice, even if you're not in the same room. When you speak to your little one, they may begin to smile and gurgle at you; your delighted reaction and responses help teach them the concept of a two-way ‘conversation’.

Creating new sounds such as cooing is the next step for your baby. Before long, they'll be using their tongue and lips to create even more precise sounds. Your little one has already come a long way in terms of language development and communication, but the adventure has just begun!

In Summary

So, when do babies coo? Many babies will produce cooing noises around 2 to 4 months old, but it’s OK if this milestone occurs earlier or later. 

Baby Noises: From Grunting to Talking

After ‘when do babies start cooing?’ comes the question ‘when do babies start talking?’ Your little one is rapidly developing language and communication skills, and it might help to understand what they’re experiencing.

So, when do babies start making sounds, and how does a baby go from gurgling to cooing to babbling and speaking? Here’s a brief timeline of what many refer to as ‘baby talk’:

  1. Grunting, gurgling and crying. Your baby’s spoken language development involves these initial newborn sounds. Even within your baby’s first few days, you’ll likely hear a mix of crying, grunting, squeaking, sighing, sneezing and hiccupping, among other cute noises. As mentioned above, these natural sounds come from your baby’s chest.

  2. Cooing. The next step is cooing, which means your baby is starting to develop and control the muscles they need for talking. They will use less crying to communicate and make more ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ sounds. Your baby may even smile and try to imitate your facial expressions. As the cooing stage continues, your little one might use their tongue and lips to create ‘bubbly’ or ‘raspberry’ sounds.

  3. Babbling. While cooing involves single-vowel sounds, babbling is when your baby starts to include consonant sounds and resemble speech. Those ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ become ‘muh-muh’ and ‘bah-bah’, or even ‘dada’ and ‘gaga’ using the front and back of their mouth. Your baby may enjoy repeating these sounds over and over, and you may even notice intonation. But when do babies start babbling? Baby babbling often occurs by 6 months of age.

  4. Talking. Babies don’t typically say their first recognisable words until they are at least 1 year or older. Most likely, the first word will be a simple one with consonants and vowels that they’ve heard repeatedly, such as ‘mama’, ‘dada’, or ‘bye-bye’. And you may notice them using more gestures along with their words. Before saying specific words, babies might understand them – In fact, babies understand more than we think! You might spot your little one reacting when you say ‘no’ or ‘bottle’ or when mentioning their favourite toy.

In Summary

When do babies start interacting with you, and when do they start smiling and cooing? Babies and newborns start by making noises like crying, gurgling and grunting to interact with you before cooing and babbling occur. But each step supports the next, from baby sounds to cooing to babbling to talking, so enjoy the ride!


How to Encourage Your Baby to Talk

Baby cooing is an exciting and endearing language development milestone, and you might be wondering how to support and encourage your little one's baby talk and progress. Here are a few things you can do to encourage those sweet baby cooing sounds:

  • Talk to your baby. It may seem obvious, but talking to your baby right from birth is one of the best ways to encourage cooing and promote language skills. Before your little one can start cooing and babbling, they’ll listen to you, which is a key part of the process. They’ll develop language and social skills such as turn-taking, imitation, pacing and speed and vocal tone through listening and watching your mouth and face. And once your little one starts to coo, repeating those sounds as you respond will encourage them to keep going!

  • Phase out baby talk when the time is right. It’s easy to get stuck in baby talk, meaning imitating your little one’s noises and using only a high-pitched voice. Once your baby starts cooing, mix up your conversations with language and tone suitable for older kids, slowly phasing out those ‘goo-goos’ and ‘gah-gahs’ and incorporating more vocabulary from your daily life. Of course, as mentioned above, repeat those coos, but just remember to include other words and tones.

  • Describe objects and situations. Remember that your baby is always listening and will understand words before being able to say them. You can help foster language development by describing what’s around your little one or what’s happening in each situation. For example, tell your baby what they’re wearing (‘Here's your red sweater’) or what you’re doing after a bath (‘Let's dry you off with a big, soft, towel’).

  • Use consistent language. When you mention or describe familiar objects, try to stay consistent with labels to support your baby’s development. For example, if you have a dog, stick to that word rather than mixing in ‘doggy’ or ‘puppy’.

  • Ask questions. Even though your child can’t yet answer you, asking questions and providing answers yourself will help build vocabulary and enhance language comprehension. Repetition is a crucial step in language development, so asking ‘What’s this?’ and answering ‘It’s a tree’ each time you’re on a walk will help support these important skills.

  • Read children’s books. A terrific way to build new vocabulary into your baby’s everyday life (and practice with repetition) is to look at children’s books with pictures together or sing nursery rhymes with simple actions. Plus, reading to babies can spark an interest in books as they get older!

  • Play games. Playing simple games, such as peek-a-boo, can encourage the repetition of words and help engage your little one. You can also incorporate props and toys into your play, such as finger puppets, cuddly toys or musical instruments.

Baby Not Cooing: What Does It Mean?

Every child is unique and develops at their own pace, and some reach typical milestones later than others. If your baby isn’t responding to or making any sounds by 6 months, or they haven’t started babbling by 9 months of age, contact your child's health visitor for more advice.

Instead of focusing on cooing alone, pay attention to your baby’s range of sounds and tones. Contact their health visitor if your baby’s babbling isn’t tuneful and appears to be all in one tone.


Cooing is an early and important step in your baby’s language development. It is their way of communicating with you and trying to imitate the vowel sounds that they hear you make. Cooing usually begins with sounds such as ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’.


Baby Development
When Do Babies Start Talking?

The Bottom Line

Baby cooing is just one step in your little one’s long language journey. But it’s certainly an important achievement, as it’s your baby’s first attempt at expressive language. Feel free to celebrate and enjoy this milestone, knowing there’s much more to come!

In anticipation of this memorable achievement, you might ask, ‘When do babies start cooing?’ and want an exact answer. Remember that babies develop at their own pace, so not every child will start cooing at the same age. Typically, babies start making cooing sounds around 2 to 4 months old, but it can occur earlier or later.

The best way to encourage and support your child’s cooing and language journey is to talk to them from birth. Babies learn to talk before they can actually speak by listening to you! You can also read children’s books with pictures, describe situations and use consistent language.

Remember that your little one is on their own path, and cooing, babbling and talking will all come in time. Contact your child's health visitor if you have any questions or concerns.

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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