Baby's First Little Words

Your baby has been communicating with you since birth, starting with the most basic cries and reflexes. And, since about his sixth month, he’s been building up his receptive vocabulary (the words he can understand) at a dizzying pace, while practicing sounds that will eventually make up his spoken language. 

What to expect

Sometime within the next month or so, you can expect to hear your baby’s first real words. These often sound like repeated syllables (“ba-ba,” “ma-ma,” “da-da,” etc.), but the difference is that your baby says them on purpose and knows what they mean, and you understand what he’s saying. 

How to help

You really don’t have to do anything differently than you’ve been doing all along – just talk to your baby about what you’re doing, what he’s looking at, the world around him or anything else! Interacting with him, whether than means reading a book out loud or having a “conversation” with him, is going to do much more to help his language development than sitting him in front of a television or putting a tablet on his lap.  

Here are some specific tips for helping your child learn to talk:

  • Name objects by pointing to them or holding them up, and then telling your baby what they’re called. Favorite objects can be the most interesting, like a ball, the family pet or a book.
  • Try to avoid pronouns. Instead of using words like “he,” “she” and “it,” use the actual names more often. This goes for people like Mommy or Daddy, as well as objects.
  • Say words slowly and clearly. Some speech sounds come more naturally than others, and your baby will have to learn to make more complicated sounds like the “dr” in “drink.”
  • Encourage speaking by asking your child to repeat single words back to you.
  • When he does speak, you listen! Make eye contact and smile, and he’ll want to keep trying.