When Do Babies Start Talking: Milestones And Tips
When do babies start talking? It’s a process, and it depends on your child’s unique development.
Simply put, before learning to speak a language, babies experiment with sound by babbling and cooing. After that, they learn to say words like “mama” and “dada,” start putting together two or three-word sentences, and, before you know it, they’re having a whole conversation with you.
But, as we mentioned above, it’s all a process. In this article, you’ll learn what stages to expect and what you can do to encourage your child’s speech development.
When Do Babies Start Talking?
When your child begins to "speak" by cooing or babbling, they are demonstrating their developing language skills. Sure, you might not have any idea what they're saying right now, but this talk will ultimately give way to actual words.
There's also a social aspect to all this baby babble. Long before your child says a word, they observe you, your partner, and everyone around them as they learn the norms of language.
From the moment they’re born, babies watch how we react to sounds. They learn languages and copy how others interact with them vocally as a result of this.
As each child develops at their own pace, there's no set age for when babies start talking. Some will begin speaking earlier than others, while some might need a little more time to get the hang of it.
There are, however, general expectations of a child's speech development according to age. Let’s take a look.
Baby Speech Developmental Milestones
2-3 Months Old
At two to three months, your baby listens to your voice, studies your face as you speak, and shifts their attention to other voices, sounds, and music in the house. Many babies also like the voices and music they heard when in the womb.
Babies begin "cooing" at about this age, too, which is a pleasant, mild, repeating sing-song vocalization.
4-6 Months Old
At this stage, your infant may recognize their name (usually from about four and a half months) but only as an essential word, such as "Hello!" or "Bye-Bye!" They won't comprehend that their name refers to them until they are around six months old, at the earliest.
6-7 Months Old
Your baby's babbles will become more speech-like once they've practiced using their lips and tongue to produce sounds, which should happen around six to seven months.
Although it may appear that your child is making random noises, if you pay close attention, you will notice shifts in tone and intonation when they speak.
For example, their voice might rise after a string of babbling, as if they're asking a question, or they might murmur beneath their breath.
You'll also note that, after stating what's on their mind, your baby may stop as if waiting for a response. This is because babies learn that a conversation is a two-way exchange rather than a monologue.
9 Months Old
Babies may understand a few basic words at nine months, such as "no" and "bye-bye." They may also start to use a broader range of consonant sounds and voice tones.
12-18 Months Old
By the end of a year, most babies can pronounce a few simple words like "mama" and "dada" and understand what they're saying. Simple, one-step requests, such as "Please, put that down," are responded to — or at least understood, if not obeyed.
18 Months Old
At this age, babies can utter a few rudimentary phrases and point to the people, objects, and body parts you mention.
They can also repeat words or noises they hear you say, such as a sentence's last word. However, they frequently omit word ends or beginnings. For example, they might say "noo- noo's" for "noodles or "daw" for "dog."
2 Years Old
By the age of two, babies can string together a few syllables into two- to four-word phrases, like "Mommy bye-bye" or "Me milk." In addition, they're learning that words can refer to more than just objects, such as "cup"; they can also refer to abstract concepts, such as "mine."
3 Years Old
By the age of three, your child's vocabulary has grown significantly, and make-believe play has aided in the understanding of symbolic and abstract words, such as "now," feelings, such as "sad," and spatial notions, such as "in."
4-5 Years Old
Your child should be able to hold discussions with adults, use adjectives in full sentences, perform knock-knock jokes, and ask questions with good intonation by this age. Most children have about a 2,500-word expressive vocabulary by the time they're six.
At this age, your toddler understands around 14,000 words. They're also able to communicate complex emotions, such as worries and dreams, express gratitude, and use words to provoke responses from others.
Now that you understand the different speech milestones your child will experience, let’s discuss how you can help them along this journey.
When Do Babies Start Talking: 6 Tips
1) Focus On Names, Not Pronouns
It can take a while for your child to understand pronouns and who they should refer to as he or she. So, instead of focusing on pronouns, try to name the person you're talking about whenever you can.
For example, "This is mommy's pen" or "Here is Timothy's bicycle" are both simpler for babies to grasp than saying, "This is my pen" or "Here is your bicycle."
2) Sing Songs That Rhyme
Nursery rhymes and songs teach your baby important language abilities through simple rhymes and repetitions. There's a reason why reading books to babies and singing songs to them is a time-honored tradition.
3) Read Aloud
Young children who have a lot of joyful and calming experiences when someone reads aloud to them grow up to be lifelong readers.
In addition to reading to your baby, remember to talk to them about the everyday things they see or experience.
For example, as you cook for your baby and feed them, talk to them about what you're doing. You can say things like, "I'm steaming some carrots for you. I know you like carrots." This helps your baby connect your speech to these things and experiences.
4) Encourage Imitation
Hearing their parents communicate is something that babies appreciate. When parents interact with their children, it aids in their speech development.
The more you communicate with them in "baby talk," using short, simple but proper terms, like "dog" when they say "daw," the more they will want to communicate.
5) Enunciate Words
A baby does not learn how to make a "gra" sound with their tongue and back of their mouth. These communication abilities need to be acquired over time.
Slowly saying and articulating the many sounds that make up specific phrases, such as "grrrr-aanndd-mmaaa" for "grandma," will help you teach your infant to speak.
Saying things twice, singing the same songs over and over, pointing out the same flower pot every time you pass it on the street, etc. — all that repetition, as boring as it may seem to you, is incredibly interesting to your child.
Repetition is necessary and important because it helps reinforce their growing understanding of how a particular sound attaches to a specific thing — in other words, what individual words really mean.
When To See The Doctor
It's essential to see your physician if you detect any of the following symptoms in your child:
- At 4 to 7 months, there is no babbling.
- By twelve months, he or she has only made a few sounds or movements.
- By 12 to 15 months, they are not pronouncing simple words like "ma-ma" or "da-da."
- By 18 months, he or she hasn't grasped simple phrases like "no" or "stop."
These can occasionally indicate that something is wrong. Here are some of the things your pediatrician will be looking for:
Hearing Loss Or Impairments
Hearing loss or impairments might start at birth or develop later in childhood or toddlerhood. Tell your pediatrician if you have a family history of hearing loss.
Children with hearing difficulties may find it challenging to learn to talk. Your doctor may be able to manage mild hearing loss caused by, for example, fluid build-up in the inner ear or refer you to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist).
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, around one out of every five children has language difficulties (AAP). This delay can sometimes be modest and can be resolved with a little more attention from a parent or caregiver.
Working with a speech and language therapist may be beneficial in other circumstances.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism is a spectrum condition (sometimes known as autism spectrum disorder or ASD) that can cause social and language impairments.
Call your pediatrician if your child does not reply to his name by nine months or does not make eye contact when you speak to him. Generally, the sooner you identify a speech delay, the sooner you can remedy it.
Let The Talking Begin!
It’s challenging to answer the question, “When do babies start talking?” because language develops in stages.
Remember to focus on names, sing songs that rhyme, and read aloud to them. In addition, encourage imitation, enunciate your words, and repeat, repeat, repeat.
Whether you’re curious about language development or other milestones, Newton Baby has you covered. Check out our blog for guides on everything from sleep schedules to crib safety and why your baby’s mattress material matters.
Before you know it, you’ll be gearing up for the next big stage of your little one’s life!