image001 Parents will often wonder if their children are developing at the right pace. They will ask : when should my child start talking?They wonder when their children will start to roll over, crawl, and eventually walk. Once the milestones have been reached, parents will often turn to watching for their children to start talking. Your toddlers will grow to use words to describe their thoughts, but even before they start speaking, they are working to listen and learn language from those around them. Because so much of their progression relies on parents, it is important for you to see when a child should start talking, how it develops, and how you can help when they start talking.

When Should My Child Start Talking?

Your baby will learn to talk somewhere in the first two years of their life. Long before they actually start speaking aloud, they will be learning the rules of language and how we use words to communicate. Babies will start by using their palate, tongue, lips and teeth as they grow in to make noises. They will start with sounds like “ooh” and “ahh” and then move onto babbling. Soon these sounds will develop into real words. This can begin as early as six months of age.

From this point on your baby will pick up words from those around them. Sometime between 18 months and two years of age your baby will begin to form short sentences with two to four words. As your baby continues to develop behaviorally, emotionally and mentally, they will be able to rely more on language to express their feelings, needs and things they are seeing or hearing.

How Does My Child Start Talking?

1. Begin in Utero

There are a number of benchmarks in your baby’s road to talking. Those exposed to more than one language will often hit these benchmarks around the same time for each language. Many believe the first steps to talking begin in utero. During this time your child will get used to the sound of your voice and begin to pick out their mother’s voice amongst others.

2. Cry During the Time from Birth to about 3 Months

From the time babies are born until they are around three months old, crying is their main form of communication. Different cries will signal different desires you child has, which parents will grow to learn.

3. Babble and Make Consonant Sounds from 4-6 Months

As they develop they will develop more coos, signs and other noises they can use to reveal their feelings. From 4-6 months your child will start to babble and make consonant sounds. They may occasionally speak a word like dada or mama but they will not yet equate these words with the items they are designed to label. As your child’s palate, teeth and tongue develop, they will experiment and use them to create new sounds.

4. Make Sense of the Sounds from 7-12 Months

Around 7-12 months your baby will start trying to make sense of the sounds they make and trying to make the patterns of sound, which may match the ones adults use. Reading and talking with your child can help to foster this skill.

5. Use a Few Words from 13-18 Months

Around 13-18 months your child may start using a few words with understanding. At this point they should start understanding the connection between using words and being understood.

6. Pick up More Words from 19-24 Months

By 19-24 months your child should know a bit less than 50 words and will be picking up more regularly. It is important to watch what you say around this time to ensure that your child does not learn unsavory language. A two-year-old may start to use 2-4 word sentences to describe things or explain their feelings. You can use this to track their sense of self as they start to use language to describe their current state.

7. Learn to Use the Right Volume from 25-36 Months

Around 25-36 months your child may be working on learning to use the right volume when they speak and start better understanding how to use pronouns. Your child should have an ever-expanding vocabulary and be able to readily understand things you say. They should be able to string together basic sentences.

8. Carry on a Conversation by Age 3

By age 3 children should be able to carry on a conversation and understand most of what is being said. You should be able to give your child multiple requests at once (i.e. pick up your toys and put them in the basket) without them being confused.

How Can I Help My Child Start Talking?

1. Create an Environment with Lots of Communication

Providing an environment with a lot of communication will make it much easier for your child to learn to talk. You do not need to speak constantly but make a point of asking questions, explaining what you are doing, singing or pointing things out when you are with your child. Make a point of speaking clearly so it is easy for your baby to understand what sounds they should be striving to make.

2. Read with Your Child

Reading with your child is also a great way to grow their vocabulary and help them understand how to put sentences together. Children love to hear their parents’ voices and toddlers will enjoy following along with the stories and pictures as a form of entertainment.

3. Respond to What Your Child Says

As your child starts engaging with these activities or your speech, make a point of looking at them and responding to what they say. They will be more likely to talk to you if you appear interested in their vocalizations.

Please see this video and learn more about how you can help your child start talking:

When Should I Be Worried?



From 6-12 months

If a child from 6-12 months is not attempting to make eye contact with you when talking, does not respond to their names or start babbling by at least 9 months, here may be a dely.

From 13-18 months

If you have noticed that by 13-18 months, your child is not growing a vocabulary, is losing language skills they had previously developed and will not show things to you, there may be a similar problem.

From 19-36 months

By 19-24 months your child should be able to follow basic instructions, copy words or actions, use single words and point to body parts. By 25-36 months they should be able to string together 2-3 word phrases, speak coherently and be easy to understand. If any of these phases of development appear to be lacking then there may be a problem.

Important Notes:

1. Stutter Is Not Uncommon

It is normal, however, for a child to stutter as they start to gain their vocabulary. Their brain may be working more quickly than their body can process, which can cause a stutter as they speak.

2. Talk to a Pediatrician

If you have any concerns about your child’s speech development, you can talk to your doctor for a second opinion. They may be able to refer you to a therapy or intervention program in your area that could help to screen for and correct language problems.