Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Baby Babbling Part of Language Learning

What's Your Baby Trying to Tell You?

WebMD Health News

Aug. 30, 2002 -- Those goo-goo's and ga-ga's coming out of your baby's mouth may actually mean something. A new study shows baby babbling isn't just noise, but a key step in the process of learning real words and language expression.

Researchers say their study proves that babbling is very different than other baby sounds or facial expressions and is linked to the area in the brain that controls language development.

Their findings are published in the Aug. 30 issue of Science.

By studying videotapes of 10 babies aged 5-12 months, the researchers found that babies open their mouths more on the right side when babbling, which indicates that the left, language-related, area of the brain is activated. The left side of the brain also controls the right side of the face.

This principle of "right mouth asymmetry" also applies to adults, who also open their mouths a tad wider on the right side when speaking. Human eyesight makes the disparity virtually undetectable.

"This suggests that language functions specialize in the brain at a very early age," says researcher Laura Ann Petitto, EdD, professor in Dartmouth's department of psychological and brain sciences, and department of education, in a news release.

In order to take into account any language-specific bias, five of the babies in the study were learning French and five were learning English, but the results were similar in both groups.

Researchers also studied the babies' mouth movements while making other non-babbling sounds such as "ahh," but found no differences in mouth opening between the right and left sides.

"We found that all the babies, both English and French, had right mouth asymmetry when babbling, equal mouth opening for non-babbling, and left mouth asymmetry for smiles," says Petitto.

The fact that the babies' mouths opened wider on the left when smiling also indicates that the movement is linked to the emotional center of the brain located on the right side. Researchers say that provides further evidence that areas of babies' brains begin to specialize at a very early age.

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow