Baby’s first words
Saying mama or dada: what to expect and baby talk milestones
Even very young babies start experimenting with talking, that’s what all that cooing and babbling is about.
From around 3 months, you may not be aware but babies are listening to you as you talk and will stare at your face as you talk. Taking all this in is how they begin "cooing" which they may do plenty of by the end of their third month.
When can I expect my baby to say their first word?
Real words can come anytime between 9 and 14 months. This isn’t the case for all babies though, some don't say a word that is recognisable until they get to about 18 months yet others can communicate recognisable words such as ‘ba-ba’ for bye-bye, ‘da’ or ‘da-da’ for dad (or dog!) from as young as 7 months. All mums want their baby’s first word to be ‘ma-ma’ and dads are hoping for ‘da-da’ but quite often babies say ‘da-da’ first as it is a bit easier to master than the ‘m’ sound of ‘ma-ma’.
How can I encourage my baby to start talking?
The best way to help your little one get ready to start talking, is to help them understand words from a young age. Babies actually start to absorb words you are saying form birth so repetition will help them understand and later speak the words. Around 6 months old, your baby could well understand some words, like their name, and you as mum and dad too. As time goes on, your baby will start to experiment with making sounds in an attempt to copy words they have learned. All of which brings them nearer to speaking their first word.
What if my baby doesn’t show signs of talking?
Even if your little one at 18 months is only starting to attempt word sounds like ‘mi’ for milk or ‘da’ for that, don’t worry. It doesn’t suggest they are behind, speech develops in their own time. If they are getting close to 2 years and showing no signs of trying to speak, do talk to your doctor to get some advice.