An Unofficial Guide to When Babies Start Talking


As your baby begins to grow out of the infant stage and into the toddler stage, you might find yourself wondering when he or she is going to start talking. Adorable little sounds and babbles turn you into a giant mess of, “Did she just say mama? She just said mama,” and “Say mama…no, not dada…mama,” as you begin using your own baby voices with your little one. There are so many different things to consider when it’s time for baby to talk, and this unofficial guide can help you out.

Encourage Language Development

Even though your baby may be too young to talk just yet, your job is to encourage language development by talking to your baby. No, you don’t need to make unintelligible sounds. You need to actually speak to your baby. They hear you, mimic you and begin to understand you earlier when you do a lot of talking. Try to talk to your baby as often as possible, even if you’re just smiling and talking about how to load the dishwasher or describing the diaper changing process as you’re changing her.

Baby “Talk”

Your little one will likely begin talking to you around two months of age. This “talk” is more like gurgling and cooing, and it’s the first stage of language development. Your job is to encourage this by making eye contact, waiting your turn to speak to your baby on your own and smiling as your baby speaks to you. Respond to your baby and he or she will begin to “talk” to you a bit more.

By the time your baby is between 4 and 7 months, he or she understands that you understand what they have to say. They will begin to use different sounds, intonations and even lowering or raising the pitch of their voices. It’s time now to start showing your baby small words, such as cup and mama and dog. This helps them learn to mimic and start speaking.

Between 8 and 12 months you can expect to hear your name and other small words. Maybe “hi” and “bye” and “ball” and other one-syllable words similar in nature. This is also the time in which your little one will begin to interact with you in a big way, such as playing hand games such as paddy cake.


By the time your baby reaches a year of age, he or she should be able to understand you very clearly. Your baby should respond to simple direction such as yes and no and hold on. From this point on, your little one should pick up words left and right, though there is no reason to worry if your child isn’t speaking complete sentences or all that clearly for the next year or two.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)


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