Baby's learning how to speak

Cries and shrieks are the first signs that your baby wants to communicate. Newborns quickly understand that the sounds they make will cause a reaction from the people around them.

Speaking without words

Depending on the tone, intensity, volume and rhythm of the baby’s crying, parents can understand the meaning of tears: frustration, fatigue, pain, hunger, joy, etc… Then comes the babbling and the repeating of syllables such as “ba” . By the age of 1, a child can say an average of 3 words, but understands much more, which is why it is important to speak to your baby. Parents sometime feel funny about talking to their baby constantly, but there is nothing ridiculous about it. “This is the traditional way of stimulating your child’s language so it can only be positive for his development. When you speak and your child pays attention to the noises you’re making, he will learn and start imitating those sounds and words”, explains Dr. Richard C. Woolfson in his book Small talk, from first gestures to simple sentences.

From the moment the baby is born, he tries to look at whoever is speaking, reacts to noises (especially sharp sounds), recognizes his parents' voices and is capable of differentiating low and high noises. Amazing for a newborn! The language learning adventure has just begun!

Ideal environment for learning how to speak
  • Voice and tones: Change your voice and its tone depending on the situation. The Little Red Ridding Hood doesn’t have the same voice as the Big Bad Wolf. Your child will ask for it again!
  • The whole body at work! Babies mainly communicate with their body. Their face, arms, legs and eyes speak… listen! Try to understand your child’s body language because it says a lot about how he's feeling.
  • Smile! Free, joyful and so beautiful, why deprive ourselves of smiles in our lives?
  • Funny expressions! The expression on your face can reveal many things! Show your child your facial expressions (surprised, happy, angry, sad, worried, etc…)
  • Sing! Songs help your child expand his vocabulary and the rhythm helps him memorize the words. Nursery rhymes and songs are highly recommended!
  • With friends! The presence of other children is great for developing language.
At what age do children start talking?
The first “real” words are usually spoken between 6 and 12 months of age. However, not every child is the same. Some keep it all “stored inside” and then explode suddenly. Even if he's not saying actual words, your child has been talking to you for a long time now... since he was born in fact! Listen carefully when your child speaks to you.
Here is a chart that sums up children’s language learning process.
0-6 months
First sounds and syllables
6-12 months

First words: daddy, mommy, milk, baby, wait. At 12 months old, a child says about 3 words.

12-18 months

The child loves to imitate the noises made by animals. By 18 months, the child says about 20 to 30 words.

18-24 months

The child starts putting two words together. His vocabulary holds about a 100 words.

24-30 months           

The child starts using possessive adjectives: “me - mine” or “you - yours”. The child asks questions “What’s this?”, “What is this?” or This is what?” Their vocabulary holds about 200 words.

30-36 months           

The child describes and comments drawings, pictures, images in a book or what is happening in a movie. They use pronouns such as “me” and “you” and articles like “the”.


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