Q&A: Baby Not Babbling Consonants at 9 Months

Tamara GuoChild Development, Infants 3 - 12 Months

blockquote_bgMy son turned 9 months today, and he is not babbling consonants yet. He tries really hard to talk but all he can come up with is Ahh Ehhh or lots of gurgling sounds like “Aga” and “Aka”. He is learning to stand up, and he can crawl. He likes to play peek-a-boo, but not patty cake. He often smiles if I call his name (unless he is busy with a toy), or when he sees me, but he can’t wave good bye, clap hands, or give “high fives”. He likes to stare at people outside, and if they smile, he smiles back and is happy.
Should I be worried about speech delay at this point? Autism? When is the deadline for babbling consonants rather than screaming and vowels? Please help!

At age 9 months I am not that concerned that your son is not yet babbling consonant-vowels, as long as he is actively vocalizing and showing an interest in an “intent to communicate” with people.

If he has just learned to crawl, all his motor energy is preoccupied with that right now. Continue to babble with him, imitating the current sounds he makes and throwing in some new ones to see if he will imitate you. Keep making “dadada”, “bababa” and “mamama” sounds for him and be sure he is looking at your face when you do it. Use a mirror and make silly sounds in the mirror with him so he can see his own face & mouth as well as yours. If he babbles his open vowel sounds with you in turn taking, for example he says “ahhhh” and you say “ahhh” and he says it back again that is great.

Also look for him to use gestures to communicate. If he is reaching towards you to be picked up, or gesturing (he’s a little young to be pointing) with his hands towards something he wants that is out of reach, this is also great.

Read books, and have him sit facing you on your lap so he can see and hear you speak. Do the same with songs and fingerplays like Itsy Bitsy Spider. Look for him to begin to wave bye-bye around 12 months. If by 12 months he is still not using consonant-vowel combinations, you may want to seek an early intervention evaluation just to be sure he is not falling behind. Keep checking our speech section of our web page for more tips.