Every parent looks forward to when their babies say their first words. Will it be something that warms your heart, like “mama” or “dada”? Or perhaps it will be something completely random, like “duck” or “ball.” Anticipating that first word can feel like the world’s longest waiting game, leaving a parent feeling anxious and impatient. So, how long should a first-time parent expect to wait to hear that magical first word? And when should they expect their little one to start having a full-on conversation?
Milestones for a Baby’s Speech Development
While there are common ages for when babies start talking and language development milestones and language skills, it is important to remember that every baby learns and grows at a different speed. Some babies learn to walk before their first birthday, while others may take longer. Some babies may start talking in sentences before others have even begun to speak their first real words. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your little one’s speech delay or language development, your pediatrician is a great resource you can turn to for answers. While every baby grows and learns at a different pace, some speech development milestones are commonly met for babies of a certain age.
3 Months of Age
At the age of three months, your baby will begin to develop a sense of awareness of the world around them. You will find that your little one will become enamored as they listen to the sound of your voice and watch the wonder of your face. They will also begin to turn their attention to other sounds that they hear in their environment, whether that be another voice, a dog barking, music playing, or the sounds of your home. When it comes to using their voice, your three-month-old will begin to “coo.” “Cooing” refers to that gentle vocalization young infants use.
6 Months of Age
At the age of six months, your infant will begin to respond to their own name and understand how the tone of their voice can communicate their emotions. Six months is also a common age for infants to hit their babbling stages. Your little one will likely begin using random syllables when attempting to communicate with those around them. You may hear them say things like “da-da” or “ma-ma.” However, a six-month-old will have not quite grasped the meaning of these syllables.
9 Months of Age
By the age of nine months, your baby will likely have developed comprehension of simple single words, like knowing who “mama “and “dada” are and understanding the meaning of “no.” They may also begin to develop a broader range of syllables and tones to better communicate with those around them.
12 Months of Age
Between the ages of one and eighteen months, your baby will say their first word and will begin to use simple words like “mama” and “dada” with meaning. Twelve months is also the stage in which your little one may begin to finally understand simple requests, like “don’t do that.”
18 Months of Age
By 18 months, your toddler may be saying one or more words and and will be able to repeat certain words they hear you say, although the words will not likely be perfectly said. Your child will also begin to develop a better understanding of words, developing the ability to point to body parts, people, and objects you ask them to.
2 Years Old
Once your baby hits the age of two, they may be able to begin using short word phrases with around 2-4 words with meaning. They should also be developing a better grasp on the fact that words don’t always point to objects they can see but can also refer to thoughts and ideas, like “good.”
3 Years Old
At the age of three, your child’s language skills and vocabulary will be growing by the day. They will also have a better grasp of the meanings behind words, whether they describe an object, feeling, or idea.
Tips for Encouraging Your Baby’s Speech Development
Your little one’s speech and language will develop on its own as they are exposed to you and your family’s ways of communicating. However, taking extra steps to expose your baby to as much language and communication as possible in a fun and engaging way will only further encourage their development. Fortunately, the steps to exposing your little one to communication methods don’t have to be complicated for it to be effective, either.
Talk, Talk, Talk
One of the simplest but most effective ways you can encourage your child’s development is by simply talking your little one’s ears off so they can hear their parents talk. As you flow through your daily routines, explain what you are doing to your little one. Cooking dinner? You can expose your baby to their language by telling them things like, “I am grabbing a carrot from the fridge. Now I am going to chop the carrot and put it on the stove to cook.” If you are playing with your baby, name the objects they are playing with. There are tons of opportunities to chat with your baby throughout the day, and doing so will benefit them more than you know!
When you are teaching your child one a new word, slowly enunciating each syllable will help your baby learn how to use their mouth to make the sounds needed. Babies are born knowing how to pronunciation the sounds needed to say a word, so taking your time to show them will prove to be great for their speech.
Read, Sing, Then Read Some More
It’s no secret that reading is a great tool to help a baby’s speech development. While any reading would be great for your baby’s development, books that rhyme and sing-songs create a rhythm that will help keep your child’s attention, allowing them to learn even more from you.
Every baby is different. While some babies may learn ahead of the curve, others may take a little bit longer. However, if you have any questions or have begun developing concerns regarding your child’s speech development, you can always reach out to their pediatrician, who will provide you with the best information for your child’s personal needs.