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When do Kids Start Talking? The Complete Baby Talk Milestone Guide for 2020

When do Kids Start Talking? The Complete Baby Talk Milestone Guide for 2020
babies with their moms

By Drisana Wallace of Modern Cali Mom

There is nothing cuter than your baby’s first words. If you’re reading this you are probably a new mom. Congrats on your new blessing.  One of my favorite things about being a mom is hearing my children speak for the first time. Something about a little tiny human saying “mama”, “please”, or “thank you” in the tiniest cutest voice melts my heart. I highly recommend writing their first words or funny things your kid says as they grow up on a note in your phone or in their baby book. Read along as I give you some important information on when babies start talking.  

When do Babies Start Talking? 

Babies start expressing themselves verbally anywhere between the age of 9-14 months old.  Some babies even start cooing and making sounds around the age of 7 months old. The important thing to realize is that all kids are different. Your child may start talking outside of this timeframe and regardless unless your Pediatrician is concerned, you need to try not to worry and enjoy your new baby. If I could give a new mom any advice it would be that whatever you do don’t compare how your baby is developing to any other baby, even their own siblings. Each baby is different and will develop at their own pace. You are probably wondering when do kids start talking.   

Language Milestones 1- 4 Years Old  

1-5 Months Old: Numerous types of crying. Phonetic syllables will begin to be heard. The cooing starts developing into vowel sounds. Your baby will start responding to your voice. They start making noise when you talk to them.  

6-11 Months Old: Understands when you say “no”. They start babbling and say “ba-ba-ba”. In this stage you will hear them say mama or dada. They try to communicate with you by actions or gestures. They say their first word.  

12-17 Months Old: Your child should be able to answer simple questions. They should say 2-3 words to label an object or person. They will start to imitate simple words. Their vocabulary should consist of four to six words.  

18-23 Months Old: They should have a vocabulary of 50 words. Your child should be able to ask for common foods by name, make animal sounds, start combing wording and beginning to start using pronouns. They should be using 2-word phrases at this point.  

2- 3 Years Old: Your child should know descriptive words such as big or happy. They should be able to use three-word sentences, using more pronouns and plurals. They should be able to answer very simple questions when asked. Speech at this point is starting to become more accurate.  

3-4 Years Old: Your child should be able to identify colors, group objects use consonants. They should be able to express their ideas and feelings by this timeframe as well. Other people should be able to understand much of what your child says. They should be able to repeat sentences at this point.  

4-5 Years Old: Your child should be able to answer WHY questions, carry out a series of three directions, understands rhyming and engages in conversation. In addition, they should be able to understand complex questions and speech should be way more understandable.  

It’s important to understand that every baby is different and may reach their milestones at different ages especially on when kids start talking. Always contact your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns on your child’s development on speech and language. As a note, parents and caregivers should be able to understand your child about 50% of a child’s speech by the age of 2 years old and 75% of it at 3 years old. By the time your child turns 4 years old a child should be mostly understood, including by people who do not know your child. If you are wondering what age do kids start talking here is a brief timeline of when kids are most likely to be communicating and what to look out for. 

How to Encourage Your Baby to Talk? 

mom with toddler

It’s extremely easy to encourage your baby to talk. I like to encourage my babies by narrating my everyday actions. By that I mean telling my baby out loud step by step what I am doing (i.e. I’m going to make you a bottle. First, I’m going to add water. Then 1 scoop of formula and finally I will shake it). With our first I used to narrate everything to the point where my husband thought I was talking to my mom or sister on the phone when he heard me. It may sound funny to narrate your whole day to a newborn, but trust me your baby is listening to you and will learn from what you teach them.  

By the age of 7 months babies are most likely able to start understanding the words that are coming out of your mouth and associating that with an action, place or thing.  

Other Way to Encourage Your Baby to Talk 

Engage from Birth: Start talking and making contact with your baby straight out of the womb. Engaging with babies I think really goes a long way. They feel valued as part of the relationship and in turn will try their best to communicate with you. Even if they can’t understand you in the first few months this is prime time to develop a strong bond with your babies. Take time out of your day to sit there and just talk away. You will see how your baby’s eyes light up to see one of their favorite people in the whole wide word speaking to them.  

Reading Books: I started reading to both my babies when they were 3 months old. My kids are now 4 and 1 and we read multiple books a day. Picture books and super simple books with one-word phrases are super helpful. Once they get to the phase where they have said a few words, I highly recommend going through the picture books and asking them to repeat the names of the objects in the books. You will be surprised on how fast they catch on and how truly smart babies really are. Repetition is key to having your baby learn.  

Singing: We love singing songs. I have noticed with both my kids that the songs we sung at birth until toddler ages are forever engraved in their brains. My youngest at an early age showed interested in the songs. I sang the 5 songs in the same order every night and he would say one word from each song each night at around 18 months. He is almost 2 years old and says more words when I sing the songs. Repetition is key my friends.  

Recognition: It’s human nature to want to continue to do something if you are consistently being recognized. I highly suggest giving your baby recognition when he says his first words or he names an object in a book. I have noticed that with both kids the more I clap, give high fives and say “good job” when they first started talking the more they wanted to talk.  

By the time your baby hits two years old his vocabulary and understanding of commands you give him will explode. Once they start talking, they literally won’t stop, trust me! I can’t wait until you witness your own baby having full on conversations with you as a toddler. Those days are priceless and will happen sooner than you think. 

To summarize, always remember that every baby is different. Even different from their own siblings. People forget how smart babies really are. If you educate yourself on their development, like you are doing now, you are bound to hopefully be a little less stressed on your new journey of motherhood. If you are ever concerned about your baby’s development always remember to contact your Pediatrician. As I mentioned earlier, I highly recommend documenting your children’s first words on your phone or in their baby book. It’s so sweet to have a place to look back at later in their life. As always, I love to encourage mothers by telling them that they are doing a great job, because you are! Keep up the good work! Hope this information on when kids start talking was helpful to you. 

Drisana Wallace

Drisana (Dris for short) Wallace built to bring together a community of mothers that had similar interests as it takes a village. As a content contributor for brands such as Fabletics, General Mills, PBS Kids, Pink Blush Maternity and more, she blogs about all things motherhood and lifestyle. I love the positive impact that Modern Cali Mom has in building a community. I love coffee, traveling and staying active with my little family – my husband, D, my daughter Danica, my son Dylan, and our dog, Duke!

About The Author

Casey Christiansen

Casey supports the PR team at Zulily.

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