When should a child start to talk?

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As a parent, you want to ensure your child reaches all their developmental milestones on time. One of the most important of these milestones is the development of speech and language. Children start to develop language from a very young age, and by the time they reach their first birthday, many have already started to say their first words. However, the question of when a child should start to talk is a complex one, and there is no one answer that fits all children. In this article, we will explore the development of speech and language in children and discuss some of the factors that can influence when a child starts to talk.

Language and speech development is a complex process that begins in the womb. Babies start to hear sounds from their mother's voice and other sounds around them as early as 20 weeks gestation. By the time they are born, they are able to recognize familiar voices and sounds. After birth, babies continue to develop their language and speech skills by listening to the sounds around them, imitating the sounds they hear, and learning new words and phrases from their caregivers.

The average age for a child to start talking is between 9 and 12 months. At this age, many children will start to say their first words and use simple phrases, such as "mama" or "dada." However, it is important to note that there is a wide range of normal when it comes to the development of speech and language. Some children may start talking as early as 7 months, while others may not start speaking until they are 15 months old. This variation is perfectly normal and is influenced by many factors, including genetics, environment, and individual differences in development.

One of the most important factors that can influence when a child starts to talk is the amount of exposure they have to language. Children who are exposed to a rich language environment, where they hear a lot of different words and phrases, are more likely to start talking earlier than children who are not exposed to as much language. This is why it is important for parents to talk to their children from a young age and read to them regularly.

Another factor that can influence when a child starts to talk is their overall development. Children who are generally ahead in their development may start talking earlier than children who are a little slower to develop. However, it is important to remember that development is not always linear, and a child may be advanced in one area, such as speech and language, while they are slower to develop in another area, such as physical coordination.

There are also some medical conditions that can impact a child's ability to talk. For example, children with hearing loss may have difficulty developing speech and language skills. If you have concerns about your child's speech and language development, it is important to speak with your pediatrician, who can refer you to a speech-language pathologist for further evaluation.

In conclusion, when a child starts to talk is a complex and multi-factorial issue. While the average age for a child to start talking is between 9 and 12 months, some children may start talking earlier, while others may start talking later. The key is to provide your child with a rich language environment, monitor their overall development, and seek help if you have concerns about their speech and language development.


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2021). Developmental Milestones for Speech and Language. Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/chart/

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (2021). Development of Speech and Language Skills. Retrieved from https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/



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