One of the most exciting events for new parents is hearing their baby utter his first words. It is hard to say for sure when to expect your baby to say his first words, but most babies will be able to say 3 to 5 words by the time they are about a year old. Your baby may start trying to talk sooner than this. As a matter of fact, you may hear your baby babbling words like “ma ma” and “da da” as early as six months of age. While he may be practicing making sounds and imitating at this age, he probably doesn’t actually understand the meaning of the words he is babbling just yet.
Receptive language comes first
Your baby’s receptive language, or what he understands, develops before his expressive language, or what he says. When you talk to your baby, you are helping to develop his receptive language and stimulating his overall language development. Even if your baby isn’t able to speak to you, he is still absorbing information and expanding his vocabulary just by listening to you. Some babies take longer to learn how to coordinate their tongue and mouth to form sounds.
Early expressive language
Birth to 3 months
Your baby starts learning to communicate with you very early. One of the first ways your baby communicates with you is by crying. Now this may not sound like language development but this is how he tells you what’s going on. You may even discover that your baby has a different type of cry depending on what he is trying to communicate to you.
4- 6 months
At around 4-6 months your baby will start babbling. He should also be responding to you by smiling and cooing. This is how he communicates with you at this age. Even though he isn’t forming actual words with his babbling, he should be starting to make some of the sounds he will later use to form words. You may hear him making vowel sounds first like “ooh” and “aah” and then later he will start combining consonants and vowels to make sounds like “da da” or “ba ba”.
Your baby’s receptive language will really start to blossom during this time. He will understand more and should be able to understand simple instructions like “no-no.” Your baby may not be talking just yet but he should be babbling by now. Pay attention to him and you may notice him trying to imitate sounds or gestures that you make. For example, he may wave bye bye or blow kisses. If he hasn’t started talking yet, try not to worry. He should be saying his first words soon.
Baby’s first words
Your baby will likely say his first words sometime between 11 and 14 months. By 18 months, you can expect him to be able to say up to 20 words. Not all babies, however, develop at the same pace or reach milestones at the same time. If you ask a group of moms when their children started talking, you will probably get a different answer from each mom. Even when you compare children from the same family, you will see variations on when each child learned to talk. Developmental milestones are designed to help parents and doctors stay alert for signs of problems.