It doesn’t matter what developmental milestone you are talking about, every baby develops and learns at their own pace, and this is no different for talking. When babies start talking really depends on the child and their development.
I will walk through the different ages, the stages of communication, and how you can help your child learn to talk.
Newborn to 12 months
During this period of time, babies are learning that they can make different sounds and how to make those sounds. Your baby should be babbling and cooing by about 4 months, and around 9 months she should be able to string sounds together. You may notice her say “mama” or “dada” at this time, but she doesn’t really know what those words mean. You should also notice your baby respond to sounds and start to notice what certain things are.
During this stage, the best thing you can do to help your baby develop is to talk to her often. Tell her what you are doing and what objects are so she can start to understand what the words mean. Read to your child often as this will help your child learn the different words. Books with simple words and repetitive sounds work best to keep your baby’s attention.
12 to 15 months
By this time your child has the ability to make all the sounds she needs to form words, even if she doesn’t make all the sounds. You should notice your baby starting to make different sounds as well as trying to imitate words you or others say. Your child should also start to say a few more words, other than “mama” and “dada”. Most commonly children start with nouns such as “baby”, “ball”, or “dog”, other common words are “hi” and “bye”. Your child should also be able to follow simple commands, such as “can you bring me the book” or “let’s go change your diaper”.
Again, the best thing you can do is to talk to your child and tell her what you are doing and what objects are. When she tries to say a word, encourage her and praise her for saying it, while also repeating the word correctly. For example, if you say “this is a baby” and your child responds by saying “beebee”, say “very good, baby”. This help reinforce the correct way to say it, without discouraging your child. This is also the time to avoid baby talk. If you mispronounce words, it will make it that much harder to teach your child the correct words and for others to understand them.
18 to 24 months
By 18 months your child should be saying about 20 words and by 24 months closer to 50 words. By the time your child is 2, she should be able to put 2 words together such as “big dog” or “baby cry”. She should also be able to identify common objects and point to eyes, ears, nose, and mouth when asked. She should also be able to follow two step commands, such as “pick up the ball and put it in the toybox”.
Again, talk to your child often and avoid baby talk.
Between 2 years old and 3 years old you will notice huge leaps in your child’s speech, often saying too many words to count.
Many parents worry about their child’s speech and language development, but then report that it seemed as if all at once their child was talking. Remember all babies start talking at different rates, as with every other aspect of development.
If you are concerned about your baby’s speech and language development talk to your pediatrician, but often there is no cause for concern unless your child is having trouble imitating sounds by 18 months or if your child has difficulty following simple commands.
How did you notice your baby’s speech develop? Did it seem to happen all at once?