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Baby Talk: When to Expect Baby's First Word

Many first-time parents wonder when their baby will start talking. Believe it or not, babies begin learning a language before birth. 

Your baby starts listening to you in the womb and gets familiar with the rhythms and sounds of the language you speak. One study found that moms who read to babies in the womb prefer listening to books more once they’re born. 

But when will your baby say its first words? Read this guide from 123 Baby Box to learn when to expect your baby’s first words

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Cooing and Laughing 

As you probably already know, babies begin crying right away. Your baby will start cooing between six to eight weeks of age. 

Around 16 weeks, your baby will start to laugh in response to the world. Babies tend to laugh at things that surprise them. For example, if you typically hand your baby a stuffed animal, it may not react. However, if you throw the stuffed animal on the floor, your baby may start laughing, as it didn’t expect this action. 

Babbling 

Your baby will start babbling before it starts learning to talk. While your baby’s babbling might sound like gibberish, babbling is the foundation of verbal communication. 

Babbling is the training wheels for your baby, as it prepares them for the real deal. Babbling typically comprises cooing sounds and sighing, which eventually develop into consonant sounds. 

Most babies start babbling between 6 and 9 months of age. While it sounds like nonsense, the babbling will eventually become actual words. 

For example, your baby might start making the “m” sound. After some practice, the “m” sound might turn into “ma” and may eventually lead to your baby saying “mama.” 

Your baby should be regularly babbling by six months. Most likely, your baby will make short strings of consonant-vowel sounds, such as ba-ba, ma-ma, or pa-pa. 

If you’re raising your baby bilingual, you’ll likely hear them make babbling sounds in both languages. By nine months, your baby should be able to string sounds with multiple syllables together. 

At this age, babies can understand more language than they can produce, and this is because it takes more motor skills to make sounds than it does to listen to them. Additionally, it takes more cognitive skills to pull a specific word from memory than it does to understand. 

Related: Is White Noise Bad for Babies? 

 

Baby looking at book

 

When Will My Baby Start Talking? 

Your baby will spend much time babbling before it says its first word. Most babies say their first word around 12 months of age. However, some babies say their first word a little later or earlier, so don’t panic if your baby doesn’t start talking right when it turns one. 

Most babies' first word is mama or dada. Common first words include no, bye, hi, woof, or banana. Bananas might sound strange, but because of the consonant-vowel pattern, it’s easy for your baby to say. 

By 24 Months 

Your baby will experience rapid language growth between 12 and 24 months. By the age of two, your baby will likely have a vocabulary of between 50 and 100 words. The 100-word milestone is critical, as this is when your baby begins combing words to form simple phrases. 

Typically, your baby will begin with two or 3-word sentences. Slowly but surely, the sentences will become more complex. Beyond the age of two, you should start to lose track of the number of words your baby can say. 

By 36 Months 

Your baby will likely have a vocabulary of 200 words or more by 36 months. By the age of three, most kids can string together sentences of three words or more. 

You’ll also notice your toddler speaking more clearly at this age. Ideally, you should understand about 75% of what your toddler says. Your toddler will also understand a lot of what you’re saying, so be careful about what you talk about around your child!

Your child will also use language to solve problems and explain concepts around this age. And, of course, your toddler will likely start telling you lots of stories at this age. 

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How to Help Your Baby Talk

 

 

Mother smiling at baby

 

You can do a few things to speed up your baby’s language-learning process. Talking is the best thing you can do to help your baby learn words. 

More specifically, naming things will help your baby associate words with objects. So if you point to a block, say “block” before handing it to your baby. It’s also an excellent idea to explain your actions to your baby as much as possible. 

For example, if you’re making a sandwich, you can say, “Mom is taking out the bread to make a sandwich,” and then continue verbalizing the steps. While your baby won’t pick up on all of the words you say, any amount of speaking is helpful. 

It’s also wise to use names instead of pronouns to help your baby or toddler follow along. For example, instead of saying “I’m,” say “mom” or “mama.” Instead of saying “he,” say “daddy” or “dad.” This will help your baby with facial recognition. 

Also, remember to enunciate your words, as this will help your baby better understand what you’re saying. Singing songs and rhymes can also help your baby pick up words faster, as there’s always been a strong connection between music and language learning. 

Research confirms that higher-pitched, slower, rhythmic speech better facilitates language comprehension in infants. Additionally, repeating words can help your baby with language comprehension and speaking. 

For example, if your baby says “baba” when pointing at a banana, slowly say the word banana a couple of times before handing it to your baby. 

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Time to Start Talking

One day your baby will be saying its first word. Then, before you know it, your child will tell you a long, drawn-out story. 

Enjoy every moment of your baby’s language-learning process! 

Related: Tongue-Tie in Babies: What You Need to Know