When Do Babies Say Their First Words?

Few baby milestones are as thrilling as your child's first words. They sound just plain adorable, for one thing. The fact that your little one can talk to you, and that you can better understand his wants and needs, is a huge accomplishment for both of you.

While every child will learn to speak at his own pace, your baby might babble his first "dada" or "mama" close to his first birthday. Ready to encourage your little one's language development? Follow these tips.

Get chatty. Simply talking to your baby teaches him new vocabulary and encourages first words.Talk aloud to your little one as you go about your daily tasks, even when what you have to say seems silly (e.g., "Mommy's folding the blue socks right now!"). Provide constant narration when you're in a new environment, to introduce him to new words (e.g., "Look at those pretty flowers in the park!").

Talk back. Follow your child's interests and let him be your guide when deciding what to talk about. For example, if your child is staring at a dog and babbling, make this the topic of conversation and repeat the word “dog” while pointing at the pup.

Focus on routines and repetition. Daily activities such as bath time, mealtime, and changing time are ideal opportunities to have the same conversations with your baby each day. During these times, she will begin to pick up on key words and phrases and associate them with the activity.

Model speech for your baby. To help your baby build language skills, speak in slow, short sentences and wait for her to try and repeat when she's ready. Help her recognize objects and words through play ("Here's your ball. Let's hide the ball").

Just remember that some children start talking early, and others take their time to utter their first words. Your baby will be on a roll with her words before you know it!

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