Preverbal Communication: Definition & Explanation

Instructor: Derek Hughes
Preverbal communication is an incredibly important mode of interaction that infants use to navigate the world. This lesson will provide you with the definition and examples of the various forms of preverbal communication.

Preverbal Communication

If you have ever been around an infant who was crying, grabbing things, or looking around, you have witnessed preverbal communication from that infant. Preverbal communication is a form of communication that infants use to interact with people around them, primarily their parents or caregivers. These communications are not in the form of spoken words (hence the name 'preverbal') but instead through vocalizations, gestures, or eye movements/gazes.

It's important to remember that these actions are considered preverbal communication only when they serve a function for the infant. The following sections will describe each of these forms of communication in more detail and indicate how they can serve that function.


It is often said that babies have different cries for different purposes. Mothers are able to identify their infant's needs based on the type of cry they hear. These different cries are a type of preverbal communication. Babies use different cries to alert their caregivers that they need something, whether it's a diaper change, food, or sleep.

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