Most parents can’t wait to hear their baby start talking. As infants begin babbling, we wonder when do babies say their first word.
How early can babies start talking? How can you tell the difference between babbling and real words?
We’re all so excited to hear our baby speak for the first time!
However, baby’s first words can also be a source of confusion and concern for parents.
Wondering if their baby is reaching their language development milestones has many parents asking at what age do babies start to talk?
Well there’s a fairly wide range of when it comes to what is considered normal for babies development.
Here we try to answer some of parents’ top questions about baby’s first words.
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In This Guide:
When Do Babies Start Babbling?
Babbling is when babies string together sounds like ba, da, and ga. It is an important milestone in language development that most babies will reach around 6 to 9 months old, though some babies may start as early as 4 months.
These nonsense noises may sound like words, but what counts as baby’s first word?
At this age, babies do not yet associate their babbling with meaning. So though it is nice to think da-da-da-da is referring to daddy, it’s unlikely from a developmental standpoint.
Some parents may count these babbles as baby’s first words, especially if it’s mama or dada. After all it can be confusing to know if your baby is saying a word with an intended meaning.
When Do Babies Say Their First Word?
Most babies say their first word around 1 year of age (usually between 10 months and 14 months).
So if you’re wondering when do babies say mama and mean it? One clue to consider is their age, but also the context.
Keep in mind that pronunciation at this point is far from perfect, so baby’s first word may sound like more of an approximation of the actual word, like baba for bottle.
What Is the Most Common First Word of a Baby?
So one baby finally starts talking, what will their first word be? You may be hoping to hear mama first, but that isn’t always the case.
Baby’s first words are ones they hear frequently, which could be one reason some say dada first. Another could be the lip movement required or the m sound.
Other top contenders on the baby first words list are hi, bye, ball, dog, woof, cat, and uh-oh.
When Do Babies Say Their First Sentence?
Your baby will likely be a toddler before they begin to speak in full sentences.
That leap from single words to 2 or more word sentences often starts sometime between 18 and 24 months.
Combining different words is an important developmental skill that most kids reach by 2 years old.
How Can I Encourage My Baby to Talk?
Talk to Them
It sounds silly and obvious, but talking to your baby is the best way to promote their own speech.
This can feel kind of funny at first, but narrate your day.
Give your words context by telling your baby what you are doing. Tell them the names of things they see around them. Tell them about sounds they hear.
Be sure to use a variety of different words and words types (nouns, verbs, adjectives…).
Avoid Baby Talk
While silly voices are fun, mispronouncing words for “baby talk” could actually make language more challenging for your baby to learn. Also using real words and complex sentence structure helps your baby learn to do the same.
Read To Them
Reading to babies is great for their language development. Books can expose your baby to new words and you can point out different things in the pictures like animals and their sounds.
Sing To Them
Most babies love hearing music so singing is a good way to engage them with language. The repetition of simple songs and nursery rhymes is a great interactive way to learn words.
Play With Them
Play fun baby games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake. The one on one interaction and word repetition is great for your baby.
Nonverbal communication can help your baby associate words with meaning like waving hi or bye.
Pointing to things as you name them can also help baby make associations.
Try incorporating gestures with singing like Itsy-bisty spider and Head, shoulders, knees, and toes.
When your baby does make sounds, respond to them. Make eye contact and speak back to them. This begins to teach them how conversation works.
Praise attempts at speech and don’t be critical of pronunciation. There’s no need to point out mistakes, instead gently repeat back what they said saying the word correctly.
What if My Baby Isn’t Talking?
Lots of parents worry that their baby isn’t talking.
First, don’t panic. Keep in mind that there is a wide range of normal development.
Second, if you are concerned about your baby’s language development, talk about your specific situation with your child’s pediatrician.
You may find that your baby is well within the “normal” range for their age.
However, it is always best to check with your doctor. Delayed language can be a sign of other issues from hearing problems to oral impairments to other developmental delays.
Early intervention can be very effective in improving delayed communication.
I’ve been on both sides as a mom of both a late talker and an early talker. Now both of them pretty much never stop.
We’d love to hear from other parents, when did your baby say their first word? Also, what was your baby’s first word?