If you’re a first-time parent, as your stare at your baby who may or may not be making some kind of angry dinosaur-like sounds, you might be wondering to yourself when do babies start talking? And the answer is…there isn’t really a straight answer for that. Every baby is different and every baby develops at different speeds.
However, as your baby grows and develops, you’ll want to be on the lookout for certain signs.
When do Babies Start Talking?
- Around 2 to 3 months old, your baby starts making cooing sounds.
- A month or so later around 4 months your baby will start babbling.
- Your baby will get more and more practice using her lips and tongue to make sounds, and around 6 to 7 months those sounds will become more like speech.
- By the time your baby is a year she’ll be talk in longer strings of nonsense syllables and will mimic the patterns of conversation. It’s around this time she’ll probably say that first word, be it “dada” “mama” “ball” or “dog.”
To encourage you baby to talk more, talk to your baby, read to her, try to talk to her like you’re having a normal conversation, and if she says something that sounds like a word, repeat the word back to her. There are plenty of books available that will help your baby with the common words that are around her every day. We’ve used this one with all of our kids.
If you have any concerns about when do babies start talking and you’re not sure your baby is where she should be, talk to your pediatrician. Your pediatrician will no doubt ask you about your baby’s vocabulary at her regular check ups anyway. You may not want to stress about it too much if you’re baby isn’t exactly on track with other babies. There are many factors that can influence this. My first born took a little longer to start talking. Part of that seems to be that boys take a little longer to start talking than girls do. Part of it seems that, since he didn’t go to daycare there weren’t other kids around all the time to learn from. Our second child learned to talk earlier, possibly because she’s a girl, but also because she had her older brother to imitate.
Now, you want to know what comes after when do babies start talking. Once your baby is talking all the time, you might want to know when your baby will be quiet.
When Do Babies Stop Talking?
The short answer is: never. As you baby starts talking and expanding her vocabulary it is fun and exciting. Suddenly your baby is able to communicate things beyond just pointing and grunting. It can also be frustrating as hell.
At 19 months, my toddler’s vocabulary is growing all the time. However, there are certain words that are used a lot and can have many meanings. One of the words she uses most often is “cracker.” She doesn’t quite have the R sound down yet, so it comes out sounding more like “ka-ka” but we understand what she’s saying. The problem, though, is that there are so many things she could mean when she says craker. She could be talking about a Ritz cracker, or a graham cracker, or a biter biscuit, or her puffs, or a pretzel, or a cookie, or a Cheese-It, or some cereal, or maybe a piece of bread. Generally, any carb in the house, especially if it’s white or tan, can be a cracker. When she starts pointing to where the crackers are and says “ka-ka” we might be standing there for five minutes as I go through every box on the shelf before I find the right thing.
The word “no” is another trap. It was a sad day when she first learned to say no. I bemoaned the event on Facebook and it was as though a cloud passed over the house. How could my baby say no!?! She’s too young to tell me no. And not only does she say “no” but she says it with emphasis, anything from a shake of the head to a shake of the head and a savage waving of her arm, as if she’s saying “Who are you trying to fool with that bull shit? Get that away from me!” The problem with no, when it comes to a toddler though, is that no can also mean yes. There’s a subtle difference in the emphasis and facial expressions that she uses that I have to gauge if she’s really saying no or if she actually wants what I’m trying to give her but doesn’t know quite how to say yes. A breakfast time I might hold up a banana and ask if she wants one and she says no. But when she says no she’s smiling and kind of nods. So then I take a step or two closer, or hold out the bunch of bananas a little farther and ask if she wants a banana again. If she says no but reaches for it, then I’m pretty sure she means yes and she has a banana with her breakfast. When a toddler says no, there are a lot of subtle clues to look for to see if she really meant no or just doesn’t know how to communicate yes.
Some things are really cute. She learned recently how to say “hands.” And so she walks up to you rubbing her hands together and says “hands” and that’s her signal that she wants you to pick her up, take her to the sink, and let her splash around in the water for a minute. And she’s started to say “please,” although it comes out more like “peas.” So she’ll say “ka-ka peas” and then we know she’s asking for a cracker.
There are plenty of other words she knows, and more that she’s learning all the time. And eventually they turn into a 5-year-old or a 7-year-old or a 10-year-old and then you’re not wondering when do babies start talking but when do babies stop talking? Driving home from an event over the summer, my middle child, then 6, didn’t stop talking for more than 48 seconds at the longest stretch while most of her pauses in the conversation were more like 6 seconds.
What about you? Has your baby said his or her first word yet? Was it “mama” or “dada?” Or do you have an older kid that sends you running to a personal time out for 5 minutes worth of silence?