When does a baby talk?

By 9 months, a baby will probably start stringing together "ma-ma" and "da-da" sounds without necessarily knowing what they mean. But when those sounds start to transform into words with meaning, it’s a milestone that feels like magic.

Babies start talking to express themselves in words with meaning between 9 and 14 months. But babies start learning how to talk right after they’re born, mainly by watching and listening.

Baby's Talking Stages By the end of 3 months

By the end of three months, your child might:

  • Smile when you appear
  • Make cooing sounds
  • Quiet or smile when spoken to
  • Seem to recognize your voice
By the end of 6 months

Most babies babble regularly by 6 months, making short strings of consonant-vowel sounds such as ba-ba, ma-ma and da-da. “Babies exposed to two languages will even babble in ways that are consistent with both languages." At this stage, baby is rapidly acquiring receptive language, meaning language that they can understand, even though they can’t yet speak it. Experimental studies show that babies can associate “mama” with their caregiver, as early as 6 months.

By the end of 9 months

By about this month, babies can begin to string sounds together to form multiple syllables, such as “ba-da-ma.” Babies can understand a lot more language than they can produce at this stage largely because infants don’t have the motor skills to form words with their mouths yet, and because it takes more cognitive skill to be able to pull a specific word from their memory than it does to just understand it.

By 12 months

Some Babies say their first word around 12 months and will talk more clearly at about 18 months,it varies in children because some may delay. But,“First words are going to be the things that are most common in your child’s world,“such as food items (banana, apple, milk), toys (ball, baby, car), important people (Mama, Dada, a pet or sibling name) or words from familiar routines."

By the end of 24 months

“Eighteen- to 24-month-old toddlers go through a period of rapid growth, when they are learning new word(s) every day. At this point your budding linguist may have a vocabulary of 50 to 100 words.
“The 100 word milestone is important because this is when toddlers really start combining words to make simple phrases,” she explains. These sentences start as two- or three-word sentences (e.g., “my toy!”) and slowly but surely become more complex.“ Although there may be some slight variability, by 24 months you should be starting to lose track of the number of words they have and be focusing more on different combinations of words.

By 36 months

By 36 months, your toddler is likely to have a vocabulary of 200 words or more, though you probably won’t be counting anymore. Many kids this age can string together sentences of three or four words. You’ll also notice that your toddler speaks more clearly now; you should be able to understand at least 75 percent of what your little one says, which can also help reduce the number of tantrums.

Should You worry if your child delays to talk?

At some point you should worried because a baby who doesn't respond to sound should be checked by a doctor right away. But often, it's hard for parents to know if their child is taking a bit longer to reach a speech or language milestone, or if there's a problem.

Signs of Talking Delay in a Baby

  1. If by 12 months your baby isn't using gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye.
  2. If by 18 months your baby prefers gestures over vocalizations to communicate.
  3. If by 18 months, your baby has trouble imitating sounds.
  4. If your babybhas trouble understanding simple verbal requests.
  5. If your baby by 2 years can only imitate speech or actions and doesn't produce words or phrases spontaneously.
  6. If by 2 years, your baby only make some sounds or words repeatedly and can't use oral language to communicate more than their immediate needs.
  7. If by 2 years, your baby can't follow simple directions.
  8. If by 2 years, your baby has an unusual tone of voice (such as raspy or nasal sounding).
  9. If you notice the above signs in your baby, visiting the hospital is an option.
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