Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Select An Article
Font Size

Your Baby's First Words

Before babies learn to talk in a real language -- English, say, or Spanish -- they babble and coo, playing with sound. That's baby talk, and baby talk sounds similar the world over.

But when will you hear your baby's first words? Critical milestones for a baby learning to talk happen in the first three years of life, when a baby's brain is rapidly developing. During that time, your baby's speech development depends on your "baby talk" skills as well as your baby's.

When Will You Hear Baby's First Words?

The first "baby talk" is nonverbal and happens soon after birth. Your baby grimaces, cries, and squirms to express a range of emotions and physical needs, from fear and hunger to frustration and sensory overload. Good parents learn to listen and interpret their baby's different cries.

Just when your baby will say those magical first words varies greatly from individual baby to individual baby. But if your baby misses any of the following milestones in speech development, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor about your concerns.

Baby Talk Milestones

  • Baby talk at 3 months. At 3 months, your baby listens to your voice, watches your face as you talk, and turns toward other voices, sounds, and music that can be heard around the home. Many infants prefer a woman's voice over a man's. Many also prefer voices and music they heard while they were still in the womb. By the end of three months, babies begin "cooing" -- a happy, gentle, repetitive, sing-song vocalization.
  • Baby talk at 6 months. At 6 months, your baby begins babbling with different sounds. For example, your baby may say "ba-ba" or "da-da." By the end of the sixth or seventh month, babies respond to their own names, recognize their native language, and use their tone of voice to tell you they're happy or upset. Some eager parents interpret a string of "da-da" babbles as their baby's first words -- "daddy!" But babbling at this age is usually still made up of random syllables without real meaning or comprehension.
  • Baby talk at 9 months. After 9 months, babies can understand a few basic words like "no" and "bye-bye." They also may begin to use a wider range of consonant sounds and tones of voice.
  • Baby talk at 12 months. Most babies say a few simple words like "mama" and "dadda" by the end of 12 months -- and now know what they're saying. They respond to -- or at least understand, if not obey -- your short, one-step requests such as, "Please put that down."
  • Baby talk at 18 months. Babies at this age say up to 10 simple words and can point to people, objects, and body parts you name for them. They repeat words or sounds they hear you say, like the last word in a sentence. But they often leave off endings or beginnings of words. For example, they may say "daw" for "dog" or "noo-noo's" for "noodles."
  • Baby talk at 2 years. By age 2, babies string together a few words in short phrases of two to four words, such as "Mommy bye-bye" or "me milk." They're learning that words mean more than objects like "cup" -- they also mean abstract ideas like "mine."
  • Baby talk at 3 years. By the time your baby is age 3, his or her vocabulary expands rapidly, and "make-believe" play spurs an understanding of symbolic and abstract language like "now," feelings like "sad," and spatial concepts like "in."

 

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
 
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
 
mother and daughter talking
Tool
child brushing his teeth
Slideshow
 
Sipping hot tea
Slideshow
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
Article
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
 
tissue box
Quiz
Child with adhd
Slideshow