When should my baby say her first word?

Some babies may utter their first words as early as 9 months of age. It’s important to note, however, that learning experts differ in how they assess whether a first word has been spoken. For example, some experts suggest that the first utterance of any word that sounds like a word used by adults, such as “dada” or “mama,” counts as a baby’s “first word”. Other experts contend that “first words” are limited to words that a baby uses to name something or someone in a consistent manner. Whether a baby says his first words at 9 months or 15 months, the exciting news is that what follows is nothing short of a vocabulary explosion. Until three years of age, many children add 1-2 words a day to their speaking vocabulary. Three- to five-year-olds can add 4-6 words a day, five- and six-year-olds often add 6-9 words per day, and from age six, children can add up to 20 words per day!

Carolyn James, Ph.D.

LeapFrog Literacy Expert

As the literacy development expert on LeapFrog’s Learning Team, Carolyn ensures that the curricular design in LeapFrog products is grounded in the latest educational research. Before joining LeapFrog, Carolyn was a reading professor at Sacramento State University, a curriculum developer for the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, and a teacher in the San Francisco bay area. She earned her doctorate in educational psychology at Michigan State University.