I have a 10-month-old daughter. She just keeps on saying "er...er...er" but never pronounces "b", "p", "m", "f" etc. in words. We are already talking to her always and showing her slowly how to pronounce "mama" (with the mouth shape), but it still doesn't help!

I think by the age of 8-10 months, children are able to pronounce simple sounds like "mama", "baba", "papa" etc., although they might not know their meaning.

Is this normal? What should I do? How can I help her?


5 Answers 5


It sounds like your baby is right where she needs to be.

Normal babies start reaching language milestones at a fairly wide range of ages. Some babies may hit some milestones early, and others late. You may have reason for concern if your child misses several milestones, but it doesn't sound like that is the case with your daughter.

The language milestones are typically grouped into age ranges, and are usually phrased "by the time the child reaches the end of this age range, they should be able to...". 7-12 months is an age range that is usually defined as one in which most children will start using their first words, but that means they usually start using their first words by the time they are 12 months old. You've still got 2 months to go before you miss than milestone, and even if you do miss it, it isn't necessarily a problem. You don't have to worry about a baby not saying their first words until they are 18 months old, and even then some children don't speak until they are two. However, it can never hurt to check with your pediatrician earlier.

Typical language milestones children may reach by the end of 12 months:

By the end of 12 months, your child may:

  • Try to imitate words
  • Say a few words, such as "dada," "mama" and "uh-oh"
  • Understand simple instructions, such as "Please drink your milk" Understand "no"
  • Turn and look in the direction of sounds

Note that it says "your child may", and not "your child should".

A more thorough checklist of hearing and language milestones for age 7-12 months:

  • Enjoys playing peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
  • Turns and looks in the direction of sounds
  • Listens when spoken to
  • Understands words for common items such as “cup,” “shoe,” or “juice”
  • Responds to requests (“Come here” or “Want more?”)
  • Babbles using long and short groups of sounds (“tata, upup, bibibi”)
  • Babbles to get and keep attention
  • Communicates using gestures such as waving or holding up arms
  • Imitates different speech sounds
  • Has one or two words (“Hi,” “dog,” “Dada,” or “Mama”) by first birthday

Being delayed on one or two of these milestones is probably not cause for concern, but if you find that your child is missing 3 or more, I'd definitely check with your pediatrician, just to be safe.

  • such a details advice and it soothe me well! Thanks Beofett!!! Commented Oct 27, 2011 at 4:17
  • 3
    There's definitely a wide range on some of these milestones. I think I didn't reach "Listens when spoken to" until 21 years... Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 15:34

As a speech language pathologist, the general rule of thumb is one word is expected at 1 year of age. Some children have many words while some such as dual language learners may be weeks or months later.

Your child is not delayed in speaking words.

Speech development begins with a child cooing and babbling and moves on to jargon. These milestones are the prerequisites for words that follow. These stages are rich in learning how to produce a variety of sounds.

The cooing stage is focused on learning how to produce sound at will. The first coos or squeals occur accidentally until purposeful control is gained. Vowels are generally the sounds that heard at this stage and are made with subtle changes in the movement of the tongue and opening of mouth.

Babbling introduces consonant-like sounds. These sounds also first occur by accident as the child closes their lips on mouthing toys or lifts their tongues to suck repeatedly. (By the way, "mama" is produced by mastering the lips closing with sound and "dada" from the tongue lifting.)

As a parent, you can support your child's development at each stage by echoing your child's sounds to them. This is sometimes called "baby talk" or "motherese" and research indicates that this behavior by parents supports a child's speech development. The key is to model your child sounds and then expand them just a little to be only a small step ahead of them.

By imitating a child's sounds, you encourage them to repeat the sound again. This is the first step of learning to imitate. After they learn this game, you can then make simple changes and encourage them to copy you. Continue the process until they will try to imitate more difficult sounds and words.

Explore sounds by making the "Indian sound" while tapping the mouth or bouncing or tapping the lips with a toy while vocalizing (or even while crying). You can encourage the /b/ and /m/ sounds by lifting the chin to close the mouth while vocalizing (or even when crying).

Making various sounds in mirror play helps children see what their mouth is doing.

The most important key is have fun. Enjoy this delightful stage of development. You have several months for your little one to continue to refine the development of sounds before single words are expected.

If no consonants are heard in the next few months, an evaluation by a speech language pathologist will give you more specific information regarding your child's development.

  1. Don't panic. Children develop at different rates, and 10 months is very young. There's no immediate cause for concern.
  2. Don't force. Why put pressure on a 10 month old to perform? My investigation into this suggests that she's still a little young for you to expect her to pronounce recognizable words.
  • but at what age does she need to pronounce those simple sound? Commented Oct 26, 2011 at 6:54
  • I'll defer to Marie's answer.
    – philosodad
    Commented Nov 3, 2011 at 16:12

Both of my sons talked later, about 15 months or so before we got recognizable mama or baba, with our experience it's because they are learning Chinese Mandarin and English at the same time. They are both pretty fluent, both boys understood much of what we said in either language even when they did not speak. I don't know if adding in some sign language helps or hurts here, we did it with our first with success and our second did well with it, since we were waiting for talking they picked this up quickly and it became a way for them to communicate with us. Still waiting for my 18 month old to really talk, although he is adding in some single words now and again - mostly Chinese at this point - but the oldest has more than made up for the late talking by now.

  • My sons sort of speak three languages: English as common language and Dutch and Mandarin as both our own languages. What we have found and read is that such complexity may slightly delay the level of speech in an individual language. Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 19:49

One of my three was making lots of sounds at that age, one didn't make much noise at all until she was nearly two (and she is now the chattiest wee thing ever).

Children vary - I wouldn't be worrying at all yet.

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