Dad 101: Baby talk
A quick guide on when your child will start talking.
Personally, I think the moment kids start talking is the moment they start to get interesting, but that might just be me.
Yes, babies and toddlers are cute, but playing charades with another human being for a year can get a little frustrating I find!
I love it when kids talk, it’s when you can really start to find out who they are and that first time they say your name, well, expect to get a goose bump or two.
What to expect
First six months
Don’t expect much at all. This is when your baby is listening intently, but what is coming out is a series of burps, gurgles and clicks. You may have more chance of understanding R2-D2 than you do a baby at this age .
Six to 12 months
Your baby is sounding things out. They usually start to respond to hearing their own name and recognise their native language by about 7 months. They might say things like ‘mama’ and ‘dada’, but don’t get too excited, they can’t really connect those words to you guys yet until they are about 12 months.
12 to 18 months
Around this time you could start to hear baby’s first words, usually something simple – like ‘NO!’. By the end of this time you might find your child can understand what you are saying (even if they don’t always obey!).
18 to 24 months
The words are usually coming on fast now. By 18 months some little ones can say 10 or more simple words and by two years, they might also join words together in short sentences, possibly to give you orders like ‘more food’ or ‘carry me’. And from then on you probably won’t be wondering when they will talk but will they ever stop?
There are a few things you can do to encourage your little one to talk up a storm.
Take the pressure off
Everyone wants their kid’s first word to be memorable, maybe even earth-shattering. Come on, you have been waiting for this moment for over a year! But no matter how many times you say ‘Dada’ and point at yourself, first words can be a random exercise.
Our firstborn’s first word was ‘ball’. Actually, it could have been ‘bull’ or ‘bell’ or even ‘bill’, but there was a ball nearby when he said it so we went with ‘ball’.
Our second child? Who knows? Once you have multiple children these milestones tend to get a bit blurred. But Number Two ended up speaking just fine, which is true of most toddlers, so don’t stress too much.
Don’t dumb down your language
You need to use the right words for things. It might be cute when your baby says ‘ding’ instead of ‘drink’ but if you start doing it too your kid may take longer to use the right words for things. That said, you should slow things down, talking too fast can confuse your kids, but you don’t have to talk to them like they are stupid either.
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Kids learn by listening to your voice, a bit like a real life version of Siri. The more you talk to them and encourage them to talk the sooner they will have the confidence to use their words and the ability to understand yours.
Also, try not to use baby talk when talking to adults. Annoying. But it can happen when you have been talking to tiny people who are wearing nappies all day.