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When can babies say grandma?

It’s an exciting milestone when babies start saying their first words. Every parent eagerly awaits the day their little one says “mama” or “dada” for the first time. But when can parents expect their baby to utter that other special name – grandma?

When do babies start talking?

Most babies say their first word around 12 months of age. However, there is a wide range of “normal” when it comes to speech development. Some babies may start speaking as early as 6 months, while others don’t say their first word until 18 months or older.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, these are some general speech development milestones:

  • 6-12 months – Babies start babbling, imitating speech sounds and recognizable words.
  • 12 months – Most babies will say their first word.
  • 18 months – Babies should have a vocabulary of about 20-50 words.
  • 24 months – Toddlers should be combining two words together.

However, every baby is different. Premature babies often reach speech milestones later. Second or third children may develop language skills faster by learning from older siblings. Some children are early talkers while others take a bit longer to communicate through speech.

What are baby’s first words?

A baby’s first word is exciting, whenever it happens! But what are the most common first words?

According to research, these are some of the most frequent first words said by babies:

  • Mama/mommy
  • Dada/daddy
  • Hi
  • Bye
  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Baba (for bottle)
  • Uh oh
  • No
  • Ball

The first words babies learn are often names of family members, pets and common objects they see every day. Babies are great at picking up context from conversations, so frequently used words are typically said first.

When can babies say grandma?

While every baby is different, here are some general guidelines for when babies might say “grandma” for the first time:

  • 12-15 months – Babies will start to say their first word around their 1st birthday. Typically “mama” and “dada” come first. But some precocious babies might utter “grandma” or another name/word soon after their first word.
  • 15-18 months – In the early toddler stage, babies expand their vocabulary rapidly. As they comprehend and say more words, babies may begin addressing close family members like grandma or grandpa.
  • 18-24 months – By 18 months, toddlers often have a vocabulary of around 50 words and are becoming little conversationalists. Grandma is fair game by this age, if the toddler sees her frequently enough to associate the name.
  • 24+ months – Two-year-olds typically understand much more complex language than they can express. So a toddler over age 2 who doesn’t say “grandma” may still recognize the person associated with the name. Every child develops at their own pace.

In most cases, a baby will say “grandma” or “grandpa” sometime between 12-24 months. However, there are no guarantees with babies! Some extended family members have had to wait until almost age 3 to hear that coveted “grandma” from an extra shy toddler.

Why might a baby say “grandma” later?

While most babies will utter that sweet name “grandma” before their second birthday, there are some reasons a toddler might say it later than expected:

  • Seeing grandma infrequently – Babies learn words for people and objects they interact with often. Toddlers who only see grandparents every few months may take longer to associate them with a name.
  • Speech or developmental delays – Babies with disabilities such as autism or speech apraxia may have more difficulty with language. They may need speech therapy to help build communication skills.
  • Advanced vocabulary – Some very verbal toddlers prioritize building their general vocabulary first. So they may be late to say “grandma” but have an advanced vocabulary for their age.
  • Shyness – Reticent, introverted or anxious toddlers may comprehend words before feeling ready to say them out loud. But grandma will come in time.

If a toddler isn’t saying expected words by 18-24 months, it’s a good idea to talk to the pediatrician. Early intervention can make a big difference for children with speech delays.

How can you encourage baby to say “grandma”?

Parents and grandparents love hearing that sweet name from baby’s lips. Here are some tips to encourage toddlers to say “grandma”:

  • Use Grandma’s name frequently when talking about or to her during visits. (“Grandma is here!” “Look at what Grandma brought you!”)
  • Have Grandma use her name in conversations. (“Give Grandma a hug”)
  • Read books together that include the names of family members.
  • Point out photos of Grandma around the house.
  • If Grandma lives far away, use video chats to interact more frequently.
  • Prompt your little one by sounding it out. (“Can you say ‘G-ran-dma’?”) But don’t push too hard.
  • Be patient – the right time will come!

With time and repeated exposure, toddlers will naturally begin to associate a name to that beloved family member who spoils them rotten. And hearing your baby’s sweet voice say “Hi Grandma!” for the first time will melt your heart.

What if baby says another name first?

Some new grandmas are disappointed if their new grandbaby’s first uttered name is “Papa” or “Nana” instead of “Grandma.” But they shouldn’t take it personally!

The key is continuing to use whatever special grandparent name you’ve chosen when interacting with your grandchild. Consistent repetition will form the association in their brain. The name that sticks first may simply be easier for a baby to pronounce.

With time and exposure, even if another grandparent name comes first, your grandbaby will be calling you “Grandma” sooner than you know it! If in doubt, run it by your pediatrician to be sure there are no speech development concerns.

What if baby uses another name?

Sometimes toddlers have a mind of their own – and the name they start calling Grandma may not be what you expected. Here are some reasons this happens:

  • Another family member uses a different name (like “Nana”) and your toddler picks it up
  • Your name is difficult to pronounce, so your toddler shortens it or creates their own version
  • Your grandchild starts calling multiple grandparents by the same name (like “Grandma”) even if you chose different ones

Even if your grandbaby ends up using a name besides what you envisioned, try not to fret. This quirkiness is one of the many joys of grandchildren. The important thing is that they associate YOU with that special name. It will warm your heart every time you hear it!

Should you correct what they call you?

If your beloved grandbaby starts using an unexpected name, should you correct them? In most cases, probably not.

Though it may not be your first choice, the new moniker was likely chosen with toddler affection. Continuing to gently emphasize your preferred name is fine. But forcing the issue will likely just cause confusion.

Keep in mind, your child may decide to formally teach their children the family names for grandparents when they are older. Grandkids often go through phases of names, much like they do with food preferences!

The most important thing is that YOU know the special role you play in your grandbaby’s life. No matter what they call you, that grandparent-grandchild bond is incredibly precious.

Why hearing “grandma” matters

Being called “grandma” or “grandpa” for the first time is a milestone to cherish. Here are some reasons that special name matters so much:

  • It represents your new status as a grandparent and this exciting stage of life
  • It’s a term of endearment showing your grandchild knows who you are
  • It reflects the special lifelong bond you will share
  • It’s reassurance that you will play an important role in their life

Even if your grandbaby uses a different name than expected, savor the moment you hear them acknowledge you in their own special way. This milestone is one to celebrate!

Fun grandma names in other cultures

Grandparent names vary widely across cultures and ethnicities worldwide. Here are some interesting “grandma” names used in other languages:

Language Grandma Name
Italian Nonna
Spanish Abuela
French Mamie
Hawaiian Tutu
Arabic Teta
Russian Babushka
Japanese Obaachan
Korean Halmoni

No matter what language or name is used, one thing stays the same – grandmas have a special place in their grandchildren’s hearts!

Enjoying your grandma name

Being called “grandma” signifies an amazing new chapter. Here are some tips for grandparents to embrace their new name:

  • Let go of expectations – savor whatever name your grandchild uses for you.
  • Correct others if they use the wrong name – gently reinforce what your grandchild calls you.
  • Have patience – remind yourself it’s about the relationship.
  • Be playful – if two names are used, pretend to be confused about “who” they want.
  • Focus on bonding – cherish the special moments together, no matter what they call you!

The first time you hear your grandbaby call you “grandma,” it’s sure to be emotional. This major milestone means your relationship is blossoming. cementing your unbreakable bond that will last a lifetime.


Hearing “grandma” from your grandchild’s lips for the first time is a heartwarming experience. While every baby develops at their own pace, most will utter this special name sometime between 12-24 months. With patient teaching and exposure, toddlers will learn to associate names with the important people in their lives.

Whether you are called “Grandma,” “Nana,” or even an unexpected nickname, embrace it as a symbol of your precious bond. The name itself is not important – your new status as a treasured member of their family is what matters most!