There’s no magic age when your baby will start talking, but here are some guidelines . . .
Between 2 and 6 months your baby will start to babble. Respond to him as if you understood, to establish that communication is a back-and-forth activity. Now is a great time to hold your baby on your lap and read children’s books to him. Point to pictures and repeat their name, encouraging him to do the same. Babies can learn the meaning of many words (receptive vocabulary) that they cannot speak (productive vocabulary).
Between 6 and 9 months your baby may start to put vowels and consonants together. Imitate her sounds and encourage her to make another sound, then imitate it. At first, “Mama” and “Dada” will probably not be connected to you, but eventually they will. A fun word to teach is, “Uh, Oh!”
Your baby will learn to respond to certain words, like her name, and to “No.” Narrate your child’s life by saying things like, “You are eating a big banana.” Her vocabulary will continue to grow, even if she can’t speak it. Continue to hold your baby on your lap and read children’s books to her. Point to pictures and repeat their name, encouraging her to do the same.
Between 9 months and her first birthday, be a good listener: look at your child and pay attention to what she says or is trying to say. Most babies can speak by 1 year old, but the range is enormous – some don’t speak at all yet, while others speak in short sentences. Don’t be alarmed but encourage communication. Constantly talk to her – children learn language from people, not video games.
She will begin to point at objects that she wants. Encourage speech to go along with this communication, but understand it is communication, nonetheless. Encourage your baby to request what she wants either by pointing or asking, whichever comes easier, to encourage the request/response model as a way of fulfilling her needs.
Constantly talk to your baby about what you are doing, where you are going, and what will happen when you get there.
Your baby may follow your gaze, but don’t be surprised if she does not look at the object at the end, yet. She’ll get there.
If you are concerned that your child seems to be developing later than most others her age, consult your doctor.
For more information on when babies develop different abilities, click here to see your options.