Your Baby Is Learning How to Express Herself!

Your Baby Is Learning How to Express Herself!

What have you been saying around your baby for the last 9 months? Don’t remember? Not a problem! Because she’s been listening to you keenly and will be saying what she’s heard and learned from you very soon…or is that a problem?!

In fact, she may have already started! You may begin to notice that your baby’s babbles sound more and more like speech. That’s because she is learning what real speech sounds like and is trying to copy it. As a result, her babbles will start to mimic common speech and even repeat syllables that she hears.1,2

As she gets comfortable repeating these familiar sounds, your baby will start piecing together sounds to say her first words! And the best part? Her very first words will most likely be “Mama” or “Dada,” which is a big milestone in her expressive language development.3 Is there anything better than hearing your little one call your name?

Another common first phrase for 9-12 months is “uh-oh!”, which is expressed anytime accidents occur (or just because it’s fun to say). When she uses this adorable surprised expression, she’ll be sure to warm your heart and tickle your funny bone. From here on out, your baby’s words will keep on coming. Just make sure she’s hearing words you want her to say!

How can I support my 9- to 12-month baby’s expressive language development? 

  • Use a variety of tones and expressions when speaking. Being expressive in your speech will help her become aware of a range of expressions and tones.
  • Read nursery rhymes. The rhyming sounds and nonsense words in nursery rhymes will help her become more aware of phonetic sounds and will encourage her to copy them.
  • Respond when she tries to communicate. Encourage back-and-forth conversations and help her improve her speech by repeating what she says and asking questions. For example, if she reaches for her doll, ask her, “Do you want your doll?” This will help her learn the correct words for common objects.
  • Show how excited you are to hear her speak! Showing your excitement will positively reinforce her abilities and help her build her confidence and desire to communicate.
  • Use “Otteroo” words. Parents don’t start using command words like “come here” or “go there” or “kick, kick” until their baby is able to start crawling and moving on her own. But these are handy words to learn and Otteroo naturally encourages parents to use these words with their kids way earlier.


1 Minnesota Department of Human Services and Department of Health. (2007). Minnesota’s Early Learning Guidelines for Birth to 3.

2 Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association. (2006). Ohio’s Infant Toddler Guidelines.

3 Life’s Little Mysteries Staff. (2012). Why Are “Mama” and “Dada” a Baby’s First Words? Live Science. Retrieved December 15, 2013 from

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