The Basics: Overview
The first 3 years of your child’s life are the most important for learning to talk. Watch for signs that your child is learning to talk on schedule.
How do children learn to talk?
Children start learning how to talk before they start using words. They learn by watching, listening, and responding to people around them.
In the first few months, your baby listens to your voice and tries to make the same sounds you do. When you respond to your baby’s sounds, you are helping your child learn how to communicate.
Smiles, babbles, and cooing sounds are your baby's way of "talking" to you. Over time, your child will learn many more sounds and words.
The Basics: Child Development
How do I know my child is learning to talk on schedule?
You can watch for signs (called developmental milestones) to see if your child is learning to talk on schedule. Here are some milestones to look for:
- By age 2 months, your baby starts to coo and make gurgling sounds.
- By age 4 months, your baby starts to babble.
- By age 6 months, your baby responds to sounds by making sounds.
- By age 1, your child says a few simple words – like "mama," "dada," and "uh-oh!"
- By age 18 months, your child says several single words.
- By age 2, your child puts words together, like “more milk.”
- By age 3, your child says 2 to 3 sentences at a time.
The Basics: When to Get Help
What if my child isn’t talking on schedule?
If you think your child may have a speech or language problem, talk to a doctor. The doctor may send your child to a specialist for tests.
The best way to help your child with language delays is to find and treat problems early. With early treatment, there is a good chance your child’s speech and language will improve.