In this Article
- 1. Does Your Baby Love Mama or Papa More? The First Words Have an Interesting Answer
- 2. The First Words Can Also Point to Who or What your Baby Sees as Familiar and Reassuring
- 3. Your Baby’s First Words Offer a Sneak-Peek Into his Culture and Worldview. Will your Baby be as Connected to the Indian Culture as you’d like him to Become?
- 4. His Choice of First Words can Reveal How Observant and Expressive he will Grow up to be
- 5. The Words your Baby does – or Does Not – Pick Can Give you Early Warning of Speech Disorder or Even Autism
- Beyond The First Words
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Has your little one started talking yet? Or are you excitedly waiting to hear the first words of your growing baby? Nothing makes a mom happier than listening to the cute sounds her baby makes, and as for the day he says his first word, why it’s a red letter day indeed! But wait – what if we were to tell you that the first words of your baby have some hidden meanings and predictions about his future personality?
Little ones start expressing themselves with sounds by the time they are about three months old. They do this by cooing. This is the murmuring sound that your baby makes and is immensely cute! Even though cooing is not a word, it is an initial stage of the development of your baby’s vocal sounds. But by the time your baby turns 6-months-old, he will start to use his tongue, lips, and palate to utter a list of random syllables. He remembers sounds now and will start speaking his very first, proper words!
While rhyming words like Papa and Mama are very common, some babies may choose something entirely different to start their language journey. Even if your baby has begun with these rhyming words, you should keep track of his subsequent words (the words he starts saying in the weeks and months that immediately follow). As per science, there are some fascinating insights you can draw from the words your darling chooses to utter in his initial days!
1. Does Your Baby Love Mama or Papa More? The First Words Have an Interesting Answer
This is a question that always comes up, if only in fun. Well, research has established without doubt that babies as young as six months can understand labels for their mother and father. That is, they can recognise both parents, and both are important for them. But mommies are luckier here. More babies have been observed to say ‘mama’ before ‘dada’!
The good news is that the reason is purely technical: it’s much easier to say mama than dada. Mama can be produced by simply closing and opening the mouth, whereas sounds like ‘d’ or ‘p’ involve the lips and the tongue – too much work! Thus, if your baby chooses either of these as his first words, it signals that his linguistic development is on track and also that you have now been registered in his mind as a very important person! Quick tip: daddies should try to encourage their babies to say papa instead of dada or daddy. They are likely to see more success. 😉
2. The First Words Can Also Point to Who or What your Baby Sees as Familiar and Reassuring
The realm of baby talk is still mysterious. But of one thing we are sure: a child’s first word is much more likely to be something they see every day and not something they are told to repeat. So, it won’t do to sit near the baby and ask them to repeat something after you. It is less likely to work if this object or person is not perceived as a consistent and secure presence in your baby’s world.
Here’s what experts are suggesting: if fathers want their babies to call out to them, as much as they call out to mama, then they need to do their share of early childcare! They need to be in the visual background of their baby, and spend time with them so that the child starts seeing them as a regular pattern. Quite a wonderful reason to get all the husbands pitching in for their share of parenting!
3. Your Baby’s First Words Offer a Sneak-Peek Into his Culture and Worldview. Will your Baby be as Connected to the Indian Culture as you’d like him to Become?
A number of studies have clearly linked the nature of first words to our culture. For instance, American children are likely to start with a common noun (“ball”) while Chinese children are likely to begin with a name of a person or a verb. This refutes the theory that the first words depend only on what’s easy to pronounce. So, if your little one had a first word such as “tata” (Grandpa in parts of South India) or “puja” (picked up from something his grandma uses a lot), it is an early indicator that you have quite a culture-conscious child!
4. His Choice of First Words can Reveal How Observant and Expressive he will Grow up to be
Check out what happened with this mother and her baby. She shared an incident on the internet about how her baby’s first word was “dat.” By “dat” he meant “that” of course. He had chosen a word which doesn’t deal with grammar or spelling and is used in so many sentences through the day. He would keep saying “dat”, “dat”, “dat” all day, while pointing at different things he saw. When her child grew up, he became a really observant kid who not only noticed everything but also share his thoughts with everyone. Interesting, right?
Over time, science has thrown light on how the words we choose first, even as little babies, capture who we become over time. So, if your baby has chosen something like “yeh” (this) or “wo” (that) and points at things while mouthing these words, you may be raising a very curious young fellow.
5. The Words your Baby does – or Does Not – Pick Can Give you Early Warning of Speech Disorder or Even Autism
This one is very fascinating – science has confirmed that the visual environment of your baby, mainly during mealtime, plays a big part in deciding his first words! So, the high-frequency objects he sees and hears about every day are likely to become his first nouns! Has your baby picked “bowl”, “spoon” or “shirt” as his first words? It could indicate that his visual processing is top-notch!
There is a reverse side to this too. If your little one has a good number of objects in his surroundings and the pattern is consistent over time, he should find it fairly easy to pick these objects as first nouns. Failing to do so could be an early indicator of speech disorders or even autism. This is because children with autism often have object-processing problems too.
Beyond The First Words
So much lies hidden in the first words your baby chooses! They are the first time he is expressing himself with something other than crying or making faces – and the occasion is truly momentous! After your baby has mouthed his initial words, he is likely to soon begin to understand other words that you use regularly. At nine months, he should be able to comfortably understand gestures well and point out to indicate his wants. At this stage, he will use a vast range of consonants and vowels and speaks simple words with expressions, such as ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’ as greetings, ‘I’ and ‘You’ by pointing out persons, ‘Bill’ and ‘Pup’ by pointing to the pets, and ‘Cup’ and ‘Tub’ by showing you his toys.
When he reaches his one year milestone, your baby will have developed vocalization and you will hear him speaking slightly complex words, such as Mummy, Baby, Daddy, Cookie, Juice, Car, Duck, Tea, Ball, Bat…what fun! This is the time when your baby prefers to speak out a variety of nouns, simple verbs and adjectives. He may even start responding to simple questions like ‘Do you want a cookie?’ by answering ‘Ya’ or ‘Nah’.
By the time another year has passed, you will note significant progress in his linguistic skills. The little one can speak out 1 to 10 digits and call out to his siblings and cousins by their names. Not just that, he may also speak two or three words together making a small sentence such as ‘I run’ or ‘You run’. There now is quite a talker at home and get ready for long conversations about funny things that happen through the day.