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When should my baby say their first words?

You can typically expect the gift of baby’s first words close to their first birthday.

To most parents, there is very little that sounds sweeter than hearing your child’s first words. From birth, your baby is learning about communication. From crying to cooing to babbling, your responsiveness to your child’s messages is a powerful teacher.

On average, babies will utter their first real words around 12 months, although there is a wide range that is considered “normal,” typically from 11-14 months.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between babbling a string of syllables (e.g. experimenting with the sound “ma-ma-ma-ma”) and using a real word. To be considered a true word, your baby must use the word on repeated occasions, and there must be meaning behind it. For example, if your baby consistently looks at you, raises their arms for you to pick them up, and says, “Mama,” this is a real word.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the info! First time mommies tend to worry about their babies reaching milestones when they’re “supposed” to. This helps to keep it all in perspective 🙂

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  2. I remember feeling like my baby was delayed when it came to this. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Thank you! That was very interesting because my daughter is right around that age! Can’t wait!

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  4. My baby boy is only 3 months old and we already have little cooing conversations, I love it 🙂

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  5. My kids hear two languages so I thought their speech was delayed, but I think they were just still processing everything and taking it all in. Now, I feel like they can understand both clearly and am glad that we kept up with using both languages!

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  6. My daughter has been cooing and bahbling a lot, she tries to talk to mommy and daddy, i can’t wait till she says her 1st word, hopefully she says mama instead of papa but probably poe who is our dog we say his name a lot even sunce she was in my womb

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  7. My little guy is behind but I am hoping it is because his sister talks non stop! I will have to address with our pediatrician at our next visit.

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  8. My son will be 9 months old in a few days and only says “dadadada” – can’t wait for him to say his first word! 🙂

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  9. I’m waiting for mines to talk a bit more and be more expressive but shes about 16 months.

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  10. I was really worried about this with my toddler, but now hes talking all day. haha. Everyone is different.

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  11. My daughter is 15 months and and only says a few words. The most consistent ones are mama, Dada, hi, bye, and baby. Her first word was baby and she started saying that around 10 months (it sounded more like “beebee” then, but the meaning behind it was clear!). I was kind of worried… She is my first child and I guess I was expecting more… I thought thought babies knew a lot of words by now. She understands what a wide range of words mean;if you ask for a ball, she’ll find her ball, she knows sippy, ear, mouth, nose, etc. It seems she is right on schedule, though, and I’m just happy to know she is developing well!!

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  12. I’m glad to know my instincts were right, my son is behind and we have unlisted in te help if a local early I tervwntion program. Working extra hard to help him learn language! ☺️

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  13. I can’t wait to hear my daughters first words! My son was a bit late talking so it’ll be interesting to see if she starts earlier….

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  14. I was wondering when the babbling was considered real. Thanks.

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  15. My son is 20 months old and is taking his time in learning to talk. He will talk when he is ready.

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  16. Mary daughter is almost 9 months and she does say “momma” it started a couple weeks ago it used to just be sounds like mum mum mum but now when I go to pick her up she says momma but all her other “words” are babbles but when she wants something to eat she says num num

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  17. good toknow

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  18. My 6 month old grandaughter is saying mama when she wants her mama to pick her up. She holds out her arms with direct eye contact! I was shocked when I overheard her! She also has sisters age 8 and 12, so I guess she hears them call her mama, also.

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    1. I wondered if younger siblings would talk sooner because of hearing and mimicking the older children. I guess the question could be applied to any milestones really…talking, rolling, crawling, walking… My son definitely tries to do things his cousin, who is a year and a half older, does. He also has zero interest in younger babies. I think his attitude is “been there, done that”! Haha! He has nothing to learn from the little ones! 😉

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  19. And my sons “first” word that he just repeated without knowing was the b one! He was in the car with grandma who accident my let it slip out and was horrified to hear it said right back to her! She called me apologizing and was so upset I couldn’t even be mad but did realize how they are even more a sponge for bad language than good it seems…yikes!

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      1. Such a good point and I’ve never thought about the inflection!

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  20. Thanks Cara! I guess we will wait and see! My husband and I were both gifted, not sure if that has much bearing on it but time will tell. I’m sure we will want all 4 tested as they both have incredible strengths but who knows that could be said of all kids I’m sure and as a mom I’m biased! 🙂

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  21. My son was late and didn’t say his first word until around 15 months which I know isnormal for boys. My daughter however is 3 days shy of 9 months and in the last week started saying banana when wanting more and mama when wanting to be picked up and is attempting to say kitty when she sees our cat Gabby. Is this extremely early? Should I wonder about her having an advanced IQ or not rush to that conclusion? She is very ahead in her physical milestones as well and can stand unassisted and is working towards walking soon. Normal or so etching else?! Either way I’m one proud mama!

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  22. I remember wondering about this when my daughter was little, and I’m pretty sure I did a random Internet search for “what counts as a first word” and came up with nothing.

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  23. I think the real question is when your baby/toddler will say their first curse word. 😉 Now THAT is a milestone to remember…..!

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    1. Hahahaha! Yeah, I’m expecting that one any day now… Just kidding. (Not really…) 😉

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    2. Thank goodness we’ve made it four years without my daughter saying one!

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    3. So it’s not quite a curse word, but my son has been repeating “gah” and “geez” after we do! Guess we need to really start watching what we say!

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  24. I had a friend post on social media that her baby’s first word was “mama” and that she was so excited and proud…the baby was barely 4-5 months old at the time. My son is 2 months older, and I knew the other baby was just babbling, but I didn’t burst her bubble. I just chuckled to myself and moved on. My son said his first word around 11 months or so. It was “duck.” Then “dada” soon followed. I was jealous, but now at 16 months, the sweetest sound ever is “mama,” and he says it all the time! 🙂

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    1. Happy to hear speech therapy helped your first and so glad to hear it’s all working out with both your boys!

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