Talking is the main form of communication that we use as humans and learning to talk is a huge step in your baby being able to tell you exactly what he/she wants. Your baby will learn to talk in stages and every child learns at a different rate. Generally speaking, your child should learn to talk within the first two years, but this process is slow. Remember that even if your baby isn’t talking yet, she is still learning language and absorbing all the words and structures spoken around her.

When Do Babies Talk for the First Time?

You baby will slip out “mama” or “dada” as early as 6 months and use more words at around 18 months. Pretty soon after your baby is born, she will begin absorbing the sounds used regularly around her along with words and the general rules of language. Eventually, she will start making sounds, which then become words and soon her vocabulary will expand rapidly. Most of this language learning occurs within the first two years of life, with some key steps within this major milestone.

Encouraging Your Baby to Talk

Encouraging your baby to talk is one of the simplest things you can do and can have an impact. The simplest way to encourage her is just to talk or sing to her and praise her for her babbling, words, or any other sounds she makes. Reading to her will also help as it increases the words and sentences she is exposed to.

Talking When Older

When do babies talk? We already know the answer. After learning to talk, your child will become a chatterbox. By age 4, sentences will include five or six words and he’ll understand grammar. He will be telling stories, asking why, and more.

How Your Baby Learns to Talk

Talking begins with the first sounds your baby makes. After all, even the crying she does as a newborn is her way of communicating. She will figure out how to use her palate, lips, tongue, and even emerging teeth to create a range of sounds. In the first handful of months, the cries will be accompanied by oohing and aahing sound and then babbling. Real words may arrive at six months in some cases with common firsts including “mama” and “dada,” along with anything else that is strongly encouraged.

After this, your baby picks up all the words she can based on what you say as well as those spoken by people around you. At around 18 months to 2 years old, she will start creating sentences with two or four words. You will notice changes to her vocabulary as she makes behavioral, emotional, and mental leaps and communicates these developments with you.

When do Babies Talk: Specific Stages of Talking

While every baby is different, most will follow the same general milestones in terms of language development. For babies being raised bilingually, these milestones tend to occur simultaneously (more or less) for each language.

We don’t know much about language learning in utero, but experts believe that your baby’s understanding begins before she is born. She will listen to your voice and be able to recognize it compared to those around you.

  • Once born, crying is the first way your baby communicates and she may have a range of cries to express different needs; you will likely learn to recognize these. As she grows, the cries will be joined by sighs, coos, gurgles, and other noises. At this point, she is beginning to recognize how words sound in general as well as sentence structure, just by listening.

  • Between four and six months, your baby will start babbling in a way that pairs vowels and consonants. She will probably respond to her name at around six months. The occasional “mama” or “dada” will appear now, but she probably doesn’t link those words to you until nearly a year of age.

  • At this point, vocalization is still like a game for your baby as she experiments with the funny sounds she can make. Babbling at this point will sound the same in nearly every language and can even include favorite sounds.

  • By seven to twelve months, it seems as if your baby makes some sense while babbling as she starts copying your patterns and tones. By 13 to 18 months, your child uses a few words and understands them completely. She will even master inflection, such as that used for questions.

  • Between 19 and 24 months, your child probably only says less than 50 words, but understands a lot more. This is the time when you want to be particularly careful about what you say as she is like a sponge. Singing simple tunes or making two and four-word sentences can happen by 2 years old. It is common to be confused by pronouns at first, saying “baby” instead of “I.”

  • By the time she is a toddler of 25 to 36 months, your baby will be talking up a storm and may not know the right volume to use. She will start understanding pronouns and her vocabulary will expand dramatically. By age 3, she will be able to hold a conversation and you (and others) should be able to understand most of her sentences.

What if Your Baby Isn’t Talking?

Some children don’t follow the average for when do babies talk and you are the best judge of when to be concerned since you know your child. If you notice issues, you should talk to your baby’s doctor about a hearing issue or language delay. She may refer you to a pediatric speech-language pathologist or an early intervention program with free screening.

You should bring your concerns up to your doctor if you notice the following:

  • 6 – 12 months: Not making eye contact or sounds, doesn’t respond to name at 6 months, no babbling at 9 months, or no single words by 12 months.

  • 13 – 18 months: Not pointing out objects or gaining new words, losing language skills, or not having six words by 18 months.

  • 19 – 24 months: Not pointing to body parts, not copying words and actions, just using single words, or not following simple instructions.

  • 25 – 36 months: Not using 2 or 3-word phrases by 36 months, not following simple instructions, being hard to understand, or speaking incoherently.

Remember that stuttering is a completely normal phase and should only require treatment if it persists past age 4.


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