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“Mama” and “Dada”: Ideas to Practice Family Names

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

“Mama” or “dada” can be a child’s first word, but that’s not the case for all babies. If your kiddo is picking up words but still hasn’t mastered your name quite yet, here are a few ideas! Keep in mind that every child is very different and they often will imitate words that are exciting or motivating. So, here are a few ways to make your name fun to say during the day:

Baby with pink shirt and short hair smiles and claps hands while her parents sing her a song.
Singing a song together is a great way to teach new words.

Incorporate it in a song: Singing a song is a great way to teach your little one new words in a fun way! Here’s one of my favorites from Miss Rachel.

Signs: If your little one isn’t using many words quite yet, it may be easier for your child to use sign language to say “mama” and “dada”. I usually tell parents to show your child the sign every time you use the word. So, if you say “Oh you want mama to help? Ok mama help”, you will use the mama sign twice. Here are those signs: Mama and Dada.

Play hide and seek: This works great if you have another adult or older sibling who can help be a role model. You hide and have the other seeker say “Oh no, where’s mama?” and then call out for her while looking. “Mama? Mama? Oh, there’s mama!” This is a great way to teach other family member names too!

Read books with “mama” and “dada” words: There are lots of books that specifically teach the words mama and dada (e.g., Mama and Dada by Jimmy Fallon, Are you my mother? By PD Eastmon), but you don’t need specific books to teach your kid a new word. You just need a book that has a mama or dada in the pictures. Point and label the pictures as you go along. If you are reading a book about a mom and her baby, you can point and say “mama” on every page so your child starts to learn the word.

Show family pictures: Point to family pictures and label the people in the photos. If you don’t have photos around your house, you could print out a few to practice or make a special photo album on your phone that you can scroll through with your child to label family members. For example, “Here’s our family. Look: mama!”

This can be a great strategy if your child just says one person’s name and not the other (e.g., dada but not mama). Start with the names they know first to get them in the habit of imitating your words. For example, if your child says ‘dada’ and their own name, you could say, “Look! Dada! Jaime! Mama!”

Other tips:

· Remember understanding comes first: If your child has not begun talking yet, your child needs to understand what these words mean before they are able to use them correctly. You can still use these strategies to teach your kiddo what these words mean and remember it may take a little bit for them to copy you.

· Use with other names: Feel free to use these strategies to teach other people’s names like grandparents, siblings, and pets.

I hope you enjoyed these ideas on how to make “mama” and “dada” words fun to say during the day. Feel free to leave a comment if you have another fun name game or song!

As always, if you have concerns about your child’s speech development, don’t hesitate to start the early intervention process today. You do not need a doctor's referral to request an evaluation. #earlychildhoodeducation #earlyintervention #playideas #firstwords #mothersday

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