When Should My Baby Start Talking?

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Babies begin studying the structure and use of language long before they utter their first word. They watch how adults form words and use speech. They begin to realize the cause and effect of language with more sophistication than most adults would consider possible in their early stages of development and talking to a baby to explain what is going on and why will help them to see the relationship between communication and action.

All babies develop at varying rates but there are certain milestones to look for to make sure your baby is on track in learning to communicate.  Babies begin experimenting with the mechanics of speech during their first two months of life. They use the lips and tongue to begin creating sounds like “ooh” and “ah” and begin those familiar gurgling noises and babbling.  By five months, some of this mechanical practice should turn in to one word speech like “mama” or “dada”.

As time progresses, the one word speech should evolve to include other words.  What is being said should be relevant to the situation and circumstances. Babies between five and eighteen months should say “up” when they want to be picked up. They should understand the concepts of “hi” and “bye”.  They begin to say “no” when they no longer want to eat.  Essentially, their one word speech should start having a purpose and objective.

For some children, phrasing can begin as early as twelve to sixteen months but is most common between the ages of eighteen months and two years.  At this stage, most babies speak as many as fifty to seventy five words but they understand a great deal more and will be learning several new words each day.  Creating simple two word sentences like, “Carry me”, “Pick up”, and “Momma bye” will become very common at this stage.

After two years of age children begin practicing voice inflection, tone, and rate of speech. Pronouns and adverbs begin making sense and speech becomes more sophisticated.  By age three, most children can hold fairly substantial conversations and are more easily understood by strangers. 

Talking to babies regularly has a positive influence on their speech development. Reading to babies has also shown to assist in early speech development.


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