During the third month, babies start making cooing and gurgling noises that will eventually lead to development of speech. Babies often coo and babble on their own, they practice using their voices the same way they practice grasping objects or lifting their heads. Early in the three- to six-month-old period, babies begin responding vocally to adult voices, especially those of their mothers and fathers. When an adult imitates the gurgle of a baby this age, the baby will gurgle back. This is the start of an early conversation.
At around four months of age, babies begin to make actual speech sounds. They intone long sequences of vowels, such as aaah and eee in a singsong fashion. This type of infant babbling is the same the world over, regardless of the language spoken at home. Only at around nine months do babies start limiting themselves to sounds they will use to speak the language about to become their mother tongue.
Babbling Of Deaf Babies
Babies with little or no hearing also start to coo, gurgle, and babble at the same ages as babies with normal hearing. However, after about four months, the vocalizing of deaf infants dies out rather than gaining a wider range of tones and sounds. At the age when the babbling of hearing children begins to become intelligible, deaf infants make movements with their hands that resemble elements of sign language.
A Three- To Six-Month-Old Baby’s Day
Clear-cut daily patterns usually emerge in a baby’s behavior around the third month of life. By three or four months you can usually predict with reasonable (but not unwavering) accuracy what your baby will do when in terms of eating, sleeping, and eliminating.
Sleeping And Waking
A three- to six-month-old may wake at about 6 A.M. after sleeping solidly from about nine (or even earlier) the night before. If the baby has slept a long time, she is likely to be quite hungry on awakening and want to eat right away. On the other hand, a baby who is still taking a late-night feeding may not be as hungry; instead, such a baby may spend several minutes examining her hands, batting at crib toys, and just looking around.
In general, babies in this age range sleep about 14 to 16 hours each day. Sleep time is usually spaced out in two or three naps and a solid block of about six hours (sometimes much longer) at night. There are, of course, great variations in babies’ sleep needs and schedules. Some of this variation has to do with the baby’s temperament and some with household schedules and parents’ responses to nighttime waking. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to push for longer periods of uninterrupted sleep at night and try to phase out nighttime feedings over these months.