Blowing raspberries is only one of many silly yet educational
games you can play that work on language and social skills.
The first time it happens, you don't expect it. Your baby looks
at you, sticks out her tongue and makes a gentle razzing sound.
It's almost impossible not to smile and make a raspberry back at
her. Just try.
What starts as a fun and silly game between parent and baby
actually sets the foundation for language, social skills and fine
motor skills such as eating and drinking from a cup. So pucker up
those lips and help your baby begin to experience a whole new
Most babies start blowing raspberries and bubbles at 6-8 months
old. After a few tries, they usually catch on quickly, particularly
if you encourage them. And you should blow back-besides being
darling, those raspberries teach a variety of important skills.
"Razzies really teach babies how to regulate their voice, how to
turn it on and off, change the volume and the pitch. It shows them
how to navigate the diaphragm, mouth, lips and tongue," explains
Tara Kehoe, speech and language pathologist and manager of the
Speech and Language Department at Easter Seals DuPage and Fox
Valley Region in Villa Park.
All that noise gives the jaw a great workout by exercising the
muscles needed to move lips independently of the jaw and tongue.
That's a crucial skill for when they start using a spoon and eating
Think of it as a workout for lips.
"Lip raspberries are just lip and no tongue. They help develop
lip tension so that when babies start drinking and eating they will
have the appropriate tension to provide a seal for skills such as
cup drinking," says Mary Barry, a speech and language pathologist
with Mary Barry and Associates in Hinsdale.
But what parents notice most about the raspberry stage is that
it's just plain fun. Babies laugh and giggle in response to their
parents' lip blowing and then they do it back. It's the early
foundation for the back and forth rhythm of a conversation.
Frequently, this is when older siblings begin to realize that
the baby is capable of interaction. "My then 3- and 5-year-olds had
a great time at this stage. They would be smiling and laughing and
just go back and forth. It was really a great bonding time," says
Carrie Raeside, a mother of five in Algonquin.
Blowing raspberries is almost nature's way of ensuring that you
"We usually just do it automatically, it's so cute," says
Try to imitate your child and then wait for his reaction. "Use
lots of non-verbal communication-eye contact and expression," Barry
says. "Show them how enjoyable it is. Show them how to manipulate
their environment by making sound; that's really what language is.
Just match the sound, wait and go back and forth. Balance and
Once they've mastered the raspberries, be ready for language to
"I think blowing the bubbles has taught her how to use her mouth
and enhance her language skills. Right after blowing bubbles, she
started using different sounds like her G's and B's in her baby
talk," says Courtney Romano of Lombard, mother of a
Early speech usually entails repeated consonants and vowels with
no discernible meaning. Much to the delight of mom and dad, the
"m," "d" and "a" sounds are frequently the earliest. Hence "mama"
and "dada" are often two of the earliest words. That soon develops
into long strings of words such as "bababababa" and then eventually
combined consonants for nonsense words such as "takomamano." They
frequently combine gesture with the sound so you might get "ah"
with the arms raised for "up."
Talk to your doctor if your baby isn't making any vocalization
by eight months. Some babies may skip the raspberry stage, but they
should make some type of sound that plays with their lips and their
mouth. If not, it could be an indication of delayed speech
development or a hearing issue.
Otherwise, enjoy those raspberries and bubbles. Play other games
of cause and effect with your baby and get them to communicate back
to you. It's an amazing and wonderful time of life; enjoy every
sweet smile and laugh.
Laura Amann is a freelance writer and the mother of four living in Elmhurst.
See more of Laura's stories here.
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