Speech in unborn babies

The unborn baby's vocal chords are fully complete by 12 weeks into the pregnancy. The baby may cry silently and practise this skill for when they are born. At 12 weeks the unborn baby  can also practise sucking. This begins to build up the muscles used for sucking and also for speech.

Fridman (1991)[1] noted that the cries of infants follow the rhythmical patterns of speech. As the infant practises crying and vocalising the rhythms become less effortful and more established. This forms the basis of spoken language.

Talking, reading and singing to baby helps to develop speech, language and communication skills right from the start. Copying the infant's noises, body language and facial expressions also supports language development.

1 Fridman R (1991) Proto-rhythms: Basis for the birth of musical intelligence and language expression. Pre and Peri-natal Psychology Journal, 6(2), Winter 1991

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