Want to know the best baby milestone? It’s when your baby says mama and dada. The love and emotions you feel after hearing that are just hard to contain. But when do babies say mama and dada?
Most babies say mama and dada around six months after birth. But it can be later since babies babble a lot, and you could make out some words such as mama and dada. But for sure, you will experience the mama/dada moment somewhere between eight to twelve months. So don’t be disappointed if you don’t hear any actual words when your baby is just six months old.
How Can You Tell If Baby Is Going To Talk Early?
Every baby is different and, therefore, has its own timeline to start talking. Babies start babbling early on, but even before that, you can get hints if you have got an early talker. What hints? You need to keep an eye on your baby’s body language. Before babies start talking, they communicate by shaking heads, waving hands, and even pointing fingers. You can call that the baby language.
The better your baby is at baby language, the more likely he will be to say his first word sooner. In addition, babies babble a lot, and some of their babbling sounds like mama and dada. To make this better, you must give as much baby talk as possible. The more words the baby hears, the better he gets at responding and learning a language.
If your child is responding early and trying to coo and babble more than normal, he is going to speak earlier than other kids his age. You should not try to put any pressure on your kid, however, if he is going at his own pace. Remember, it’s not about competition but instead about celebrating your baby’s growth.
What Are The Stages Of Babbling?
It all may appear kind of muddled up in those early few months; however, first words do not just occur suddenly. They have stages that involve a lot of babbling. You can understand babbling through these stages:
First Four Months
A baby’s language development starts in the first four months with crying and cooing. Usually, the baby understands that when he cries, he will be getting his next meal. He will make cooing sounds for attention too. All of this is normal and a step towards the development of language skills.
Once the baby is able to make cooing sounds, he will proceed to learn to coordinate his mouth and make simple sounds. This is for the primary caregiver to understand and encourage. You can engage him through caregiver speech and making eye contact with him so that he feels you understand him. This will also make him imitate your language.
Start of Babbling
Around the fifth month, the baby will be producing his first babbling sounds. These will be simple one-syllable sounds such as ma, da, and ba. Babies also start changing their tones and volume and can turn their crying into yelling to gain attention faster.
In later months the baby also repeats the babbling of these words to produce words like ba-ba and ma-ma. This may make you overly excited, but that’s only baby talk. He hardly knows what he is saying.
This is an important stage of language skills development as it is concerned with the mixing of smaller sounds and syllables. Here your baby will likely imitate sounds he hears around himself. This happens around the time your baby is 8 to 9 months old.
This stage is followed by making expressions and gestures at ten to eleven months old as he develops his jargon. This sets the base for his first spoken words.
Saying First Words
Once your baby is one year old, months of language development that you have spent with him finally pay off when he says his first words. Now you need to encourage him to speak multiple words in one sentence. Parents must also encourage introducing more solid foods into the baby’s diet. This helps oral muscles become stronger and help in language development.
Furthermore, this method helps the baby produce more complex sounds than simple ba, ma, and da sounds. He will speak words that actually make sense. Parents must focus on making eye contact with their kids and responding to the talk so that the baby knows that he is on the right path.
“Mama” or “Dada,” Which Comes First?
Curious? Well, naturally, both of you think you love the baby most, but who is it going to be called by name first? There is really no competition. All you care about is enjoying every milestone your baby achieves. So whether he says mama or dada first, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he has spoken his first words.
You can never be sure what your baby will say first but consider this: Your baby will most probably say mama and dada at the same time. Syllables like “ma” and “da” are easy to pronounce. That’s why most babies say mama/dada first, depending upon preference.
Don’t get alarmed if your baby is saying dada before he says mama. For you, that can be heartbreaking since a mom spends more time with the baby, but just know that it doesn’t really mean anything. Your baby is only saying dada because he likes playing with that sound more. It is also possible that your baby does not say mama or dada at all and goes for a totally different sound. It is very likely that this will happen, and that is okay too, as babies are really unpredictable.
The common sounds your baby can produce include sounds like ga-ga syllables. They will use repetitive sounds and also experiment with different syllables. In some cases, the repetitive sounds can produce mama and dada, but before the baby is one year old, it is not completely meaningful, and the baby is just experimenting.
Do Babies Mean It When They Say “Mama” And “Dada”?
Babbling is more like the baby experimenting with his oral muscles. It hardly means that they are calling out to their mama or dada. They do not understand the meaning and certainly cannot connect it with their caregivers. So no, they do not mean it when they say mama and dada.
The rationale of saying mama and dada has, however, been tied to the fact that babies hear these words more often as the parents speak these words more. Moreover, they are easier to speak when the baby’s speaking skills have not yet fully developed, and they are easier to shape.
What To Do When Your Baby Won’t Say “Mama” or “Dada”
Speech and language development are complex acquisition processes that can be hard for some babies to develop quickly. Though it is not surprising if your baby is taking his sweet time in developing speech, you may become anxious after a while, especially after seeing other kids of his age speak words.
If your baby’s speech delay is making you anxious or you desperately want to hear the magical words of mama and dada, you can try a few activities to help your baby get there.
The Peek-a-boo game is considered one of the most effective ways to teach your baby to say mama and dada. Babies are motivated to learn these words through peek-a-boo because it involves imitation as well as the response of the caregiver. When kids see their parents involved so much in learning these words, they naturally pick up on them quicker.
You must try to emphasize your name in the game, like. Instead of saying where is the baby, say, “where is mama? Here is mama.” Eventually, this will become routine for your baby. Just play at the same time every day, and with consistent practice, your baby will learn to say mama or dada.
Most of the time, what your baby learns is by imitating your actions. While you need to be watchful there, the same goes for language learning. You must speak maximum words to your baby if you want him to learn the most. For any kind of skill development, it is crucial that parents invest time and energy in that skill with their baby.
You should try to make as much eye contact with your baby as possible. It is not possible to make them smile if you are not looking into their eyes. Additionally, you can only get the best response and respond yourself better if you make maximum eye contact.
You should not put pressure on your child to speak if your neighbor’s kid spoke at that age. Every baby is different and, therefore, must be treated differently. Give him time till he is at least one year old. If after that he doesn’t speak, then you can consult a doctor.
Use Nursery Rhymes
This is one of the most helpful strategies to make your baby say your name. In addition to just saying mama and dada, it can really help your baby learn new words. Not only nursery rhymes and songs are fun and easy to learn, but with their repetitiveness, you can drill new words into your baby’s memory.
You don’t necessarily have to use the old and cliched songs. You can always make new mama and dada songs that suit you the best. You can also switch names in old songs to customize them according to your needs. Simple yet creative.
Consulting a Speech Therapist
When to consult a speech therapist? I would say you need to see a doctor when your baby is above one year old and still hasn’t spoken any words. It is concerning if after a 12-month period your baby hasn’t said anything, and he should be tested through either a hearing test or by a language pathologist.
A speech therapist will carefully analyze your baby’s communication skills and try to understand what is causing a delay in his development of speech. Once the problem is identified, which is probably nothing huge, the doctor helps you in developing pre-verbal skills, which is a step toward actually developing speech.
You can use exercises to pressure your baby into speaking. You can do that by repeating words and actions that your baby can comprehend. It is not that important to use objects and colors to make your baby speak faster. Instead, you can use actions and functions for communication to make your baby learn words like go, stop, etc.
Once this process starts, vocabulary building will happen eventually.
Parents need to be vigilant in order to develop the baby’s speech. This starts with studying the baby’s reaction to certain words and understanding his likes and dislikes. This is a way of bonding with your child and comes in handy when you are later trying to make him learn new words.
You should learn to keep close physical contact with your baby to improve bonding with him. Even if your baby seems difficult, be patient and practice words with him. He will eventually pick them up.
When your baby does utter mama or dada, repeat the word with him multiple times so that he learns it. The same goes for other words. You can try different exercises till your baby is five years old. By that time, he will be actively speaking and communicating in complex sentences.
Enjoy Listening to Your Baby!
Your baby will eventually say mama and dada when the time is right. There is no definite rule that your baby will say mama or dada first. In some cases, he will say neither of the words if he prefers another sound or syllable. So don’t get bothered by this. But in case your baby hasn’t spoken a word and he is over one year old, you must consult a speech therapist.
Other than a doctor, you can conduct activities with your baby to make him speak words and monitor his progress closely in order to develop his language skills properly. Do not panic. Just remain vigilant and help your baby get there.
Your actions influence your baby’s progress a lot. You must try to remain compassionate and engaged completely in your baby’s language learning. Make eye contact with him and respond to his nonverbal actions. Eventually, those actions will help your baby say mama and dada.