Menu

Your baby's first word is an exciting milestone, both for your child and for you. While you're eagerly listening for your child's first words, phrases and sentences, it can be hard not to feel a bit anxious, especially if it seems like other children the same age are talking before yours. When do babies start talking? Why isn't my child speaking yet? Is he or she developing normally? Am I doing something wrong?

Deep breaths, mama. Every child reaches verbal milestones at their own pace, and there's a wide range of "normal." In fact, most developmental milestones are guidelines. Some babies will reach them early and some later.

FEATURED VIDEO

While it's helpful to understand what's considered typical, if a child has not reached a milestone by a specified age, it does not mean there's an immediate cause for concern. It just means you'll want to keep a close eye on how your child's language is developing, and consult your pediatrician or a speech-language pathologist with your observations.

Here's what to know about when babies start talking, including typical speech and language development milestones to watch for.

As their speech and language skills develop, children should demonstrate progress in both receptive language (understanding what is being said to them) and expressive language (communicating wants, needs and thoughts).

Here's a quick set of guidelines for what's considered typical by age, according to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association.

Language skills to look for from 0-3 months

Receptive language: Babies should show signs of hearing, such as recognizing a familiar person's voice and startling in response to loud sounds.
Expressive language: Babies should also be testing their voice by crying and cooing. As they grow, they will begin to react to different types of sounds and increase the variety of sounds they are making.

Language skills to look for from 3-12 months

Receptive language: By one year, children should show signs of simple receptive language skills that include recognizing simple words for everyday items, reacting to their name, looking where you point, playing simple games, and attending to short activities and stories.
Expressive language: Children up to one year old often babble repetitive syllables such as "bababa" or "mamama" and use gestures to express what they want. They will typically have a couple words in their vocabulary by the end of their first year.

Language skills to look for from 12-24 months

Receptive language: Between the ages of one to two, children will begin to point to body parts when asked, respond to simple directions and questions, and point to familiar pictures and objects when asked.
Expressive language: This is also the age when children begin to blossom with new words, especially around 18 months to 2 years. It is common for children to have 50 words or so by the time they are two years old. They will also begin to use two-word phrases and questions.

What if my child is not babbling or speaking like they should?

Many factors can contribute to a child's not reaching these speech milestones exactly on time, and it's important to remember that missing a developmental milestone doesn't necessarily indicate a speech-language disorder. However, if there is a delay, it is essential to speak to your pediatrician and a speech-language pathologist. For children who may not outgrow delayed speech, early intervention is critical. Specialists will be able to help determine if intervention is necessary.

If at any age, you have concerns your child is not hearing, speak to your pediatrician immediately. Difficulty hearing at a young age can significantly affect a child's development in various ways. Keep in mind children who pass hearing tests as babies can still develop hearing problems later.

What can I do to encourage my child's speech?

There are multiple ways parents and caregivers can help nurture your child's speech development.

  1. Look at your child when you are talking. Children learn through observation and imitation. Let them see your face as you make early babbling sounds. Focus on early developing sounds such as b, p, d, m and vowels.
  2. Respond to your baby. When your little one makes faces or sounds, respond to them by mimicking their actions or by having a simple conversation. Your child will learn that gestures and words receive reactions, an important concept for early communication skills.
  3. Take advantage of routine moments. Life with kids is busy, and it can be challenging to set aside time to work on communication. However, everyday routines can provide perfect opportunities. Talk to your child and practice speech and language skills during daily activities such as diaper changes, feedings, shopping cart rides, and baths.
  4. Encourage vocalizations with gestures. Children typically communicate with gestures before words. They will point to a cup when they want a drink or reach for a toy up on a shelf. This is an excellent demonstration of early expressive language skills, and it can become easy for parents and their children to communicate and anticipate needs without the use of vocalizations. Encourage your child to say the name of what they are asking for; even if it is only a simple sound the first few tries.
  5. Expand on what your child says. When your child begins to say simple words, acknowledge that you heard them, and use their word in a slightly longer phrase. For example, if your child says "car," respond with "Yes, that is a fast blue car" or "Do you want the blue car?" This will help them learn how simple words are used in meaningful phrases.
  6. Read to your child. Reading is a great way to encourage early communication and narrative skills, as well as a healthy bonding activity for you and your child.

Our babies come out as beautiful, soft and natural as can be—shouldn't their clothes follow suit?

Here are nine of our favorite organic kids clothing brands that prove safe fabrics + stylish designs are a natural fit.

Estella

A brick and mortar store in Manhattan that opened in 2002, Estella is NYC's go-to shop for luxury baby gifts—from sweet-as-pie organic clothing to eco-friendly toys.

L'ovedbaby

@lovedbaby

We l'oved this collection from the moment we laid eyes on it. (See what we did there 🤣) Free of things harsh added chemicals, dangerous flame retardants, and harmful dyes, this collection is 100% organic and 100% gorgeous. We especially adore their soft, footed rompers, comfy cotton joggers, and newborn-friendly kimono bodysuits.

Looking to stock up? Don't miss Big-Find Thursday every week on their site—a 24-hour flash sale that happens Thursdays at 9 a.m. PST and features a different body style, collection, and discount every week!

Hanna Andersson

@happyhannas

One of our all-time favorite brands for durability, style, + customer service, Hanna Andersson doesn't disappoint in the organic department, either. From an aww-inducing organic baby layette collection all the way to their iconic pajamas, there are so many organic styles to swoon over from this beloved brand. And we swear their pajamas are magic—they seem to grow with your little one, fitting season after season!

Monica + Andy

@monicaandandy

The fabric you first snuggle your baby in matters. Monica + Andy's (gorgeous) collection is designed for moms and babies by moms with babies, and we love it all because it's made of super-soft GOTS-certified organic cotton that's free of chemicals, lead, and phthalates. Newborn pieces feature thoughtful details like fold-over mittens and feet.

Finn + Emma

@finnandemma

"Here boring designs and toxic chemicals are a thing of the past while modern colors, fresh prints and heirloom quality construction are abundant." We couldn't agree more. Made from 100% organic cotton, eco friendly dyes, and in fair trade settings, we love this modern collection's mix of style + sustainability.

We especially love the Basics Collection, an assortment of incredibly soft, beautiful apparel + accessories including bodysuits, zip footies, pants, hats, and bibs, all available in a gender-neutral color palette that can work together to create multiple outfit combinations. The pieces are perfect for monochrome looks or for mixing with prints for a more modern style.

SoftBaby

@littleaddigrey for @softbaby_clothes

You'll come for SoftBaby's organic fabrics, but you'll stay for their adorable assortment of prints. From woodland foxes to urban pugs, there's no limit to their assortment (meaning you'll even be able to find something for the new mama who's hard to shop for). Plus, the name says it all--these suckers are soft. Get ready for some serious cuddle time.

Gap Baby

@gapkids

Organic may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Gap, but this popular brand actually carries a wide variety of organic (and adorable) baby + toddler clothes. From newborn layette basics to toddler sleepwear—and more—there's something for everyone in this collection. Everything is 100% cotton, super soft + cozy, and perfect for eco-conscious mamas.

Winter Water Factory

@winterwaterfactory

Certified organic cotton with Brooklyn-based swagger? Be still our hearts. Winter Water Factory features screen-printed textiles in bold designs you'll want to show off (get ready for some major Instagram likes). And the husband-and-wife co-founders keep sustainability at the forefront of their brand, meaning you can feel good about your purchase--and what you're putting on your baby.

The company makes everything from kids' clothes to crib sheets (all made in the USA). For even more cuteness, pair their signature rompers with a hat or bonnet.

Under the Nile

@underthenile

Under the Nile has been making organic baby clothes since before it was cool. Seriously, they were the first baby clothing company in the USA to be certified by The Global Organic Textile Standard. They've kept up that legacy of high standards by growing their Egyptian cotton on a biodynamic farm without the use of pesticides or insecticides, and all of their prints are made with metal-free colors and no chemical finishes.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

You might also like:

Shop

How much time our kids spend in front of a screen is something we have almost always been “strict" about in our household.

Generally speaking, we're not big TV watchers and our kids don't own tablets or iPads, so limiting screen time for our children (usually around the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines) has proven to be a reasonable practice for us.

It wasn't until this past summer when I started working from home full time that I found myself stretching an hour to an hour and a half or allowing just one more episode of Pokemon so I could get in a few more emails quietly. (#MomGuilt)

I also realized that I wasn't counting when we passively had the news on in the background as TV time and that we weren't always setting a stellar example for our kids as we tended to use our phones during what should have been family time.

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play