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Common First Words by Babies

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baby yelling out to his brother

At about age 1, after several weeks of understanding you but not being able to talk back, your baby will finally say something that sounds familiar. Most likely, this word will reference (no surprise!) the people, things and activities that make up his everyday life.

Other household members - a sibling, a pet, Grandma - are likely to get labels that sound more or less like their names, but at this point your baby may think “Kitty” or “Doggie” applies only to her own lovable furball.

Babies are social creatures as well as mimics, meaning you may hear “hi” and “bye” from an early age. You may even be treated to a “please” or “thank you” (“tan-ku”) if your baby hears you say these words a lot. And speaking of mimicry, be on the lookout for the vehement “no! before long.”

Mealtime is a big source of inspiration for new talkers: “Juice” and “bottle” are common first words, as is the universal finger food “Cheerios” (“Ee-ee-ohs”). Talk to your baby about what he’s eating - it's an excellent way to reinforce what you are saying with another of his senses: taste.

Body parts get frequent attention, especially “nose” and “eye.” And clothing often follows suit: “hat” or “shoe” (amended slightly for easier pronunciation). Reinforce this vocabulary by incorporating it into your dressing-the-baby routine. She’ll know what words to expect because she’s been hearing them on a regular basis. Songs can also be a hit, especially if you've been singing your baby catchy ones with fun sounds. If you suddenly hear him calling, “E, I, E, I, O,” be sure to answer with a verse or two of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” (Another catchy tune is the Mexican folk song “Cielito Lindo ” - known in some circles as the Frito Bandito song.)

Lastly, children love “uh-oh.” It’s a sound that’s simple to produce, and adults use it a lot around them. And, of course, your baby will be in many situations (crashing blocks, food dropped on the floor) when an “uh-oh” is the perfect comment.

Research suggests that verbal learning accelerates rapidly after a baby has learned 50 or so words, or when he’s about 19 to 21 months. At this point, instead of a word every three days, the pace can pick up to 10 a day.

Next: From Blabbermouth to Communicator

 
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