When Do Babies Say Their First Words?

When Do Babies Say Their First Words?

As a new parent or grandparent, you’re probably waiting with bated breath for the ‘goo-goo’ and ‘ga-ga’ to turn into ‘mama’, ‘dada’ or ‘nana’ and asking yourself when do babies say their first word? You’ll find that babies typically start to form their first words around 12 months old, although like all baby’s firsts and memorable milestones, there can be some variation from child to child. It's super important to remember this is just a guide and your baby might start talking a little earlier or a little later than a year old. In fact, it’s not dissimilar to the way children vary as to when they take tentative baby steps in their first pre-walker shoes

Baby’s first words at their own pace

First words are exciting, new and unpredictable, as well as so cute with every baby learning to chat at their own pace! Here’s the best and worst case scenario when it comes to baby babble:

  • Early chatterboxes: a few little talkers might surprise you with a word or two as early as 6 months. These are often just sounds or syllables as they experiment with their vocal cords.


  • Late babblers: don’t worry if your little one isn't saying much by 18 months old. Some kids communicate with sound and gestures for longer than others!

Most babies find their voice between 9 and 16 months. If you have any questions, your paediatrician is always happy to chat and check on your child's progress. Remember, there's no need to worry, just talk to your doctor and they can help keep you informed as you note all your baby’s milestones. 


Why do some babies chat more than others?

Little ones are amazing language learners! If you’ve ever wondered why some babies form their first words faster than others and then don’t stop chattering, there’s a few things to consider.

Basically, chattiness can run in the family! In the same way we can inherit hair or eye colour, our genes can determine how quickly our baby might acquire their early language. It’s not that simple though. Like acorns growing into oaks, babies need to be tended to in a nurturing environment to help them develop and adopt speech. We should talk, sing, and respond to baby’s first words, even if we are quiet ourselves. This is how babies learn by example. 

As humans, we are natural mimics, so the more babies hear fun and positive language around them then the more they'll experiment with sounds and words themselves. In short, we must babble back!

At this peak time of learning, babies can be receptive to multiple languages, so growing up in a multilingual household can benefit a baby's development. For adults being surrounded by unfamiliar language can feel confusing but for babies, starting out with extra flexible new brains, they soak up information from all around. This can be useful for learning languages later on. If you’re able to speak different languages at home you’re in a fortunate position to help their first words flourish and language skills blossom.

When do babies say first words – what are the signs?

Even before your little one says their first word and those adorable gurgles start to get more purposeful, there are non-verbal signs and visual clues you can look out for, hinting that they may be getting ready to start to chat. 

  • When your baby points excitedly at things they want, that’s a non-verbal signal that they might be trying to ask for something. 


  • When your child copies your facial expressions (like sticking their tongue out, pulling funny faces or raising their eyebrows), they’re starting to express themselves as a precursor to using words to communicate. 


  • When your tiny tot starts making sounds that are different in texture and tone and feel more like conversation than just cooing, this is a great indicator that they're building skills in forming sentence structure in preparation for talking soon!


Tips for parents to encourage babies to say their first words

If you want to encourage your bundle of joy to get babbling, then there are a few fun and engaging ideas to make learning fun. Here are a couple of our favourites to fast-track communication:
Talk Time: Talk, sing, and narrate your way through your day to your baby. Even tiny babies love to hear your voice and pick up on intonations as you explain what you’re doing. 

Listening Corner: Pay attention to your baby's coos and babbles, then respond appropriately with encouraging smiles and simple one or two word positive replies like Yes, Good or Well Done.  

Point & Scoot: Narrate what you're doing ("Here is your big book!", “Get your yellow ball!”). Follow their gaze to chat about things you’re showing them so they can associate words with objects. If the time’s right, they might shuffle towards things and start to find their feet. 

Sing & Splash: Make bath time or playtime fun and singsong. Forming phrases in rhyme with music can really help children learn, improving their memory and gaining experience with language.


What if my baby is slow to say their first words?

It's only natural to wonder if your little one is on track if they seem to be slower than their peers. Remember, just like walking, which we talk about a lot, little ones all develop at their own pace. But if you do have any concerns about your baby’s speech development, then have a word with your doctor. Keep a diary of what you’re noticing and then you will be able to answer any questions they have and hopefully offer guidance. They might refer you to a speech therapist who can offer an assessment and work with your child. Professional therapists are best placed to provide fun activities and strategies to help address issues around baby’s speech development early on. 

In what other ways will my baby be developing as they learn language?

It's amazing how much your baby learns in just a few short months! Speaking often goes together with other exciting milestones. Around the time your little one starts saying their first words, you might see them taking wibbly wobbly first steps or begin to start picking up and sorting toys. These new skills all come from their active developing brain as they begin to explore the world. Make sure you celebrate all the big (and small) achievements reinforcing positive messages and milestones, such as first words and learning to walk.

Celebrate baby’s firsts with shoes from Inch Blue

Buckle up because your baby's about to take their development to the next level. As well as chatting they should start cruising around the living room as first words and first steps often go hand in hand. What better way to explore than in soft suede and leather Inch Blue baby shoes in designs that let their personalities shine through? Bold dino shoes are playful and fun, or if you’re looking for fruity designs our strawberry shoes are sweet options as they discover their voice and find their feet!