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When Do Babies Start Talking?

When will my baby start talking?

Human speech is one of the fundamental things that sets us apart from everything else in the animal kingdom. The power of speech completely changes the way that human beings interact with each other and appreciate the world around them. Can you imagine a world where people didn’t have the basic power to say yes or no to something? A world without language would be a very different and perhaps scary world indeed. It’s during the first year of life that babies begin both listening to language and absorbing it. Eventually, babies start talking and you’ve got a true blue human being on your hands that you can communicate with, albeit in a different way than a fully formed adult. When babies start talking, it’s an exciting time, but the timetable for every baby’s first words is different.

In the first 4 weeks of life alone, babies are honing their listening abilities. They can differentiate between specific simple syllables, although of course it’s a simple differentiation. By two months, they’ll correlate lip movements with sounds. That beautiful baby of yours is learning constantly and more quickly than a grown adult would be capable of, although they can’t do much with the knowledge yet. The first year of life is when your baby will generally say a first word and your interaction with them will often determine exactly when that first word is spoken. That’s right. You as a parent will interact with your child in a back and forth of baby talk that will influence exactly when that first “ma-ma” or “da-da” is spoken.

Talking Milestones

A baby’s first experimentation with language will be a series of cooing and babbling. Adorable baby cooing usually begins to happen at 3 months old. A baby at 3 months old will respond to voices, hear music, and truly listen to these noises and absorb them. They’re warming up for greater things to come. At about 6 months old, a baby will recognize his or her own name and know that his or her name denotes himself. This is a huge milestone in a baby’s life because it’s that fascinating moment when that baby first knows who they are as defined by language. By this time, there has probably still been no real “true” first words, although it’s not entirely impossible that your baby will blurt out “ma-ma” and “ba-ba” by age 6 months. When babies start talking in this way, it’s a great relief and joy for parents.

Basic words are recognized by babies at about 9 months old. It’s at this age that they can also use different tones of voice. Most true first words, that your baby actually understands, will occur in 12-18 months of age. It’s during this critical period that your baby will truly start to talk and understand. The first “ma-ma” and “da-da” at 6 months is often considered just babbling and the baby may not understand their first words all that well when babies start talking. When babies start talking – making those initial sounds – it’s at first very likely that they don’t understand what those words mean. And that’s okay! Absorbing the world around them in those critical first 6 months is how a baby learns the foundation of sound and language, and it’s a necessary thing.

How To Encourage Babies To Start Talking

Parents who have investigated this subject and find that their children don’t seem to be following the typical path to talking may be concerned and want to encourage their babies to start talking. Even if your child seems to be hitting all the language milestones, you may just want to help them develop a healthy use of language and continue learning and enjoying the spoken word. When babies talk, it tends to thrill parents and onlookers alike. Everyone makes sure to denote the moment with the appropriate level of praise and joy. Giving a child reasons to talk is never a bad idea, as children who have a better grasp of language will navigate the world better.

If you’ve been trying to spark an interest in talking for a baby that just doesn’t seem to be catching on as quickly as they could, there are a lot of ways you can inspire your baby to talk more. If the first words have already been spoken, you can encourage more to follow. To get your baby to start talking more, try these helpful tips.

  • When you’re around your child, don’t always use baby talk. If it’s a toddler, use appropriate “real” words to denote things like a baby bottle or a bed. Baby talk is okay for younger babies, but toddlers benefit from hearing real words.
  • Take the time to make reading to your child unhurried. Read slowly and take the time to really talk about what you’re reading about.
  • Respond to the words your child is saying and let them know in a positive way that you understood. Even if it’s a word or two response, you’re communicating with your baby in language and it’s communicative
  • Your child is learning new words all the time, so the more you talk to them the better, but let it be a natural conversation. Don’t force things.
  • Pretend play and storytelling are great for helping babies start talking

Every parent is at a different stage in a baby’s language life. These tips are best for those babies who have already started to talk and are in the process of learning to string together words. Younger babies simply need terrific praise when they say words, a lot of speech from you to help them learn talking, and a very gentle, positive attitude when you’re conversing with your baby. Before your baby ever says a word, they are listening to you and learning how to talk by the things you’re saying around them. They’re listening! Never forget that as your baby develops, even though they can’t talk, they can hear you, and how you use language can encourage them to begin talking.

Every Child Is Different

Like all other life milestones, when babies start to talk is unique to every baby. Many babies who were slow to pick up language turn out just fine and later go on to be intelligent and successful. It’s only when there is a severe delay that you should have a talk with your pediatrician and see if there might be a problem. Each baby begins talking at a different time. It’s not always right at 6 months on the nose. It may be a little earlier or a little later, but for most children those words are going to start flowing soon enough. Before you know it you and your toddler will be having regular conversations, albeit much different than the ones you have with friends or adult family members.


As a general rule, babies start talking when babies start talking. That may sound a little generic, but it’s absolutely true. The most important thing is that when babies do start talking, you respond with positive energy and language that encourages them to interact with you using the language that they are capable of using. Reading stories to your very young baby is never a bad idea. They are listening to those words and their quick-to-learn brains are absorbing everything you’re saying. The more children hear speech, the more likely they are to use it as a tool. And for every human being on earth, communication is often the most important thing in their lives. We all need to be able to communicate. Language is often the best way to do that.

2 thoughts on “When Do Babies Start Talking?”

  1. Babies are born as soon as they are born. They do not have the ability to speak. But once they start seeing, they observe. In particular, they begin to lip-read between the ages of 3-5.

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