Baby's First Words

Every day, a baby is born and a parent goes through the phase of teaching their kids how to talk. Baby talk doesn’t start instantly, as it goes through the process of hearing, learning and understanding. As a parent, their knowledge will start with you.

Baby talk starts with cooing and babbling over the sounds they hear around them before they finally learn and adapt in the real language. You will hear your baby’s first words in the first 3 years of their life, where their brain begins to rapidly develop. By that time, your kid’s speech depends on your skills of baby talking for them to hear and recognize.

When Do Babies Say Their First Words?

If an 8 or 9 month old infant keeps on cooing, and by chance you hear them speak “Mama”, “Dada”, “Papa” and some words having 2 syllables (as most baby starts with), don’t be so excited yet, because he/she doesn’t yet recognize the meaning of a “mama” as a mother and “papa” or “dada” as a father, as those words are just babbles over the sounds he/she hears around most of the time. Despite being able to pronounce first words that make sense to adults at 8-9 months of age, mostly, baby's first words come out at around 11 to 14 months of age, when their brain starts to connect the meanings of certain objects with the names. At the 18th month or so, when a baby reaches that milestone of starting their baby steps in learning, expect them to be uttering more words than before. As a parent, there are certain things you can do to keep them at their own pace and encourage them to talk more.

Language Development Milestones in the First Year

Except baby's first words, there are many important language milestones of the first year. Hearing the first magical words from a baby’s mouth depends greatly from every single baby out there. And if your kid tends to miss any of these milestones in developing their speech, share your concerns with a family doctor or a pediatrician.

3 Month Old Baby Talk

At the third month, an infant listens to the sound he/she hears around, and it could be a parent’s voice or music around the home. As they listen, they watch your facial expressions and goes over your voice. Take note that most babies are now preferring the voices and music they hear when they we’re still in the womb and the voice of a woman than that of a man. And by the end of these months, infants begin to gently coo simple sounds.

6 Month Old Baby Talk

At the sixth month, an infant starts to babble more sounds like “ma-ma”, “ba-ba” or even “da-da” which are made up by some random syllables they hear without yet recognizing its meaning. But by the sixth or even the seventh month, the baby can now react to their native language, the tone of voices and much better, their names.

9 Month Old Baby Talk

At the 9th month, your baby can now understand some basic words like “bye-bye”, “no” or a simple nod and they even start to use more consonant sounds and voice tones.

1 Year Old Baby Talk

At the 1st year, your baby now again says “Mama” and “Dada” and this time, he/she acknowledges what it means. They even start responding to or obeying your short requests like putting down a toy.

How to Help with Language Development in Your Baby

Once you hear your baby's first words, you will begin to help your child’s language skill development. To do that, you have to provide a nurturing communication environment around them. These are the most important things to consider:

1.      Talk to Them

Have a little talk andprovide your child simple conversations like naming things out, saying their names, describing what you do or even better, and sing lullabies. Your baby learns from what they hear so resist the temptation of babbling like them.

2.      Read Bedtime Stories

Cliché, but reading to your baby is a good way in exposing them to sentences, story flows, characters, and new vocabulary to acknowledge. They love the sound of the reader’s voice and they are having fun looking over character pictures in each page of the book. When they reach 3 or 4 years, expect some possibilities that this time, they’d be the one sharing the story flow of the book.

3.      Lend an Ear

Listen well when your baby talks to you, pay attention and give responses because your child prefers to continue on speaking up when they know that you’re into what he/she is trying to say.

4.      Give Replies

Your baby says “la-la”, so in return, say something like “Lala? How are you?” and give them time to reply over the conversation. Saying something like this in return lets them play on sounds and makes conversing fun for them.

5.      Name Things

For instance they point something out in your kitchen, say, the spoon or the table, name it to them as you touch it. This way, your baby builds up her vocabulary.

6.      Make Them Love Music with You

Music is another way to enhance your baby’s vocabulary. Nursery rhymes like the “Old McDonald Had a Farm”, “B.I.N.G.O”, “Incy Wincy Spider”, “ABC” and lullabies makes them learn about the society around them through the rhythm of words they hear and familiarize over time.

Watch video to learn more about language development in babies and how to teach your baby to speak:

When to Get Help

One out of four children are late talkers, and less than a half of those kids will be needing therapy to make them get on track of a normal milestone in learning. When your child is around 2 and a half years old and they are still not talking, take time to get professional help because at this age, late bloomers starts to catch up over some other kids.

Symptoms that your kid is a late bloomer include:

  • At 2, he/she only uses a word to ask questions
  • He/she still speaks in single syllables and drops final consonants
  • Stops talking frequently when they sense that you don’t understand them

Be guided by your instincts and seek for your doctor’s advice when you think necessary.