Babies often—but not always—say their first real word at 11–14 months. Some wait until they’re 16 months or more. Girls on average begin to talk a little earlier than boys.
A first word may not be a real word, but simply a sound a baby consistently uses to mean a particular object, person or action. “Mama” and “Dada” are often a baby’s first distinct word, but it could just as easily be “ba” (ball), “do” (dog) or “ca” (car).
Even with a small vocabulary, babies of this age tend to communicate well, indicating their needs and desires with gestures and facial expressions.
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