When do babies start talking?

Written by Louise Grey

With a newborn baby herself, Louise has been reviewing products on the baby market for a number of years and prides herself on a unique take on every product she reviews!
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Last Updated 07/06/2020

When do babies start talking?

Up until a certain age, a baby’s primary method of communications usually is just crying, or if you’re lucky, they might point at things and mutter a couple of sounds to express what they want.

What’s important for parents to know, however, is that this babbling is crucial in the development of your baby’s social cognitions. This represents the start of real communication, typically. They begin to make sounds and anticipate your reaction, which is essentially the basis of forming social relationships.

The most important milestones for your baby’s talking development will happen in the first three years of their life. At this stage, the brain is developing rapidly. During this phase, it is essential that you can understand “baby talk” and know how to respond to it.

In this guide, then, we have compiled everything that you need to know about this parade of your baby’s life, concluding the milestones you need to be aware of, and how to cope with your baby as they develop through these stages.

 

Vocal Development in Babies

The verbal skills of your baby will progress through stages when their vocal mechanisms become more mature, and they grow much more familiar with their environment. The first sounds they make will transform into coos and goos after 2-3 months. Then, babbling will begin around the age of 4 months.

If your child is an infant, you will notice that their first sounds often include “b”, “p” and “m” sounds. These are made just by putting the lips together. This explains why you will hear plenty of “but, but” and “puh, puh” sounds in the first few months.

Of course, there are some ways you can help your baby in this stage of their development. You can engage with them in conversation, as well as pausing after speaking to give them some time to respond to what you say. Also, you can try to express a wide range of tones and syllables when they talk to you so that they will learn new sounds.

 

So when do babies express their first words?

Usually, it will take about 6-7 months worth of practising and babbling before a baby has developed the cognitive skills to begin saying their first words. Although it may appear to you that your little one is only blurting out random sounds, you will notice changes and fluctuations in the tones that they make when they speak. For example, when asking a question, they may raise the tone of their voice.

At this stage, they also develop the realisation that a conversation works two ways, and hence they will pause after speaking to give you the chance to respond to what they say.

But when do babies start speaking more fluently? Generally towards the end of the baby’s first year. At this stage, they will babble on in longer strings of short nonsense words and sounds, while attempting to mimic the tone and body language of an adult. This ’jargon’ stage usually comes before their first words, which is about the time of their first birthday. Are you still wondering what the first words will be? Research indicates that the most likely options are either “Mama”, or “Dada”.

Just before the end of their first 18 months, babies will begin to form an understanding of the short requests that you have for them. For example, asking them something simple as “Please stop that”, maybe understood by your little one.

 

18 months and beyond

At 18 months, most babies will be able to say simple words, and if you begin to point at people, objects and body parts, they should be able to name them. At this stage, they might still not be able to pronounce full words, and instead will leave the ending off terms, such as “Daw” for “Dog” and “Cah” for “Cat”.

Just a little bit after the two-year mark, babies will be able to string together short sentences such as “Dada bye-bye”. At this stage, they may also begin to understand abstract concepts, like the idea of ’mine’ and ’yours’ etc.

At the age of three, your baby’s vocabulary will expand rapidly. They will grow a much better understanding of abstract concepts and symbols. On top of that, they have a better grasp of understanding and labelling emotions. Spatial concepts are now much easier understood by babies, too.

 

How can I teach my baby to talk?

There are many small ways you can help your baby talk, here are some of them:

Perhaps the easiest way to help your baby learn to talk is by watching them. For example, if they are at your feet and raise both their arms towards you indicating they want you to lift them, then smile at them, acknowledge their intent and respond quickly, this encourages early attempts at non-verbal communication and means that your baby will learn how to deal with social situations quicker.

Another common way is to listen to what your baby says. All of the cooing and babbling will have an underlying meaning to it, so take the time to respond to what they have to say. Be patient with them, and give them the time that they need to return to whatever you are speaking to them.

Make sure to praise your baby when they try to communicate with you. Make sure to smile at them even when they make even such confusing attempts to communicate with you. It’s the response of the adults around them, which teaches babies the basics of conversation and how they should behave themselves socially.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, then, a baby normally will continue to babble until the end of the first year, from there, you will begin to hear their first words and watch them start to develop more coherent praises around 18 months. Then, once they hit the three-year mark, their vocabulary and understanding will expand rapidly, and they will start to construct more coherent sentences.