Your Baby’s First Words

Your Baby’s First Words

Most parents look forward to hearing their infant say his or her first words. Language is a complex developmental process that begins at 3 months and continues to develop throughout childhood.

Nonverbal Language ‘ First Step to Language Development

Babies begin to smile anywhere from 1 month to 3 months. Smiling is a form of nonverbal communication. If your infant smiles, smiling back will encourage this fun nonverbal behavior. According to Web MD, ‘By the end of three months, babies begin cooing – – a happy, gentle, repetitive, sing-song vocalization.’ Imitate you baby’s first sounds to encourage speech development. If your baby ‘coos’, ‘coo’ back.

Babble ‘ Second Step to Language Development

According to research at the University of Texas of Austin, ‘The ground work for acquiring speech starts as early as 7 to 8 months when infants begin babbling in an attempt to mimic sound in the environment.’ Researchers from the University of Texas also note that ‘baby-babbling patterns are common across many languages and around the world.’ Babbling sound like gibberish or nonsense talk, yet an infant babbling indicates an important part of learning in speech development because infants are using consonants and syllables while babbling.

Babies First Words ‘ Third Step to Language Development

According to, ‘By the end of 12 months, your child may try to say a few words, such as ‘dada,’ ‘mama,’ and ‘uh-oh.’ Don’t be concerned if a child says ‘dada’ before ‘mama’ or vice versa. An infant will usually say a word that has consonants which are easier to pronounce first. If an infant says ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ first it usually is not sign or preference, but of ease in pronunciation.

How to Encourage a Baby’s Language Development

According to research at the University of Texas at Austin, ‘Parents wanting to help their normally developing baby acquire language can stimulate their baby by talking to them, singing songs, playing games like ‘peek-a-boo’ and reading picture books.’

Web MD suggests, ‘Talk about what you’re doing as you wash, dress, feed, and change your baby . . . so your baby connects your speech to these objects and experiences.’ Also imitate and praise any effort your baby makes at nonverbal and verbal communication. If a baby smiles, babbles, or coos reciprocate. Also, slow down the speed or rate of your speech to make it easily understandable to your baby.

Time Table for Speech Development

  • 3 months ‘ A baby should smile and coo.
  • 7 to 12 months- A baby will babble.
  • 12 to 18 months ‘ Your baby may say a few words.
  • End of 18 months ‘ Your baby should be able to say 8 to 10 words.
  • End of 24 months ‘ Your baby should speak up to 50 words.

Remember that each baby will develop at their own speed or rate, but these are loose guidelines for a baby’s language development.

When to Be Concerned About a Babies Language Development

According to research at the University of Texas at Austin, ‘If infants aren’t making the same types of sounds as their peers, parents might want to discuss it with their pediatrician to see if a formal evaluation should be done.’ Usually a formal evaluation entails a hearing and language test performed by a specialist in hearing and speech development.

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