Why does my baby make funny sounds?

Q: My baby makes these funny sounds without opening her mouth. Why?

A: Don't worry -- your baby isn't destined for a career as a ventriloquist. Young babies automatically experiment with their voice box. In adults, the vocal cords and lips are working together to form words, but a baby isn't following these rules. Babies don't yet have the motor skills to coordinate sound with lip movement. Before 6 months, an American, Chinese, and French baby will all make the same spontaneous, universal sounds. After 6 months, imitation takes off, and babies from different countries will begin to move toward language-specific mouth movements and sounds. --Hagar Scher

Originally published in Parents magazine, October 2006. Updated 2009

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