Unless somebody is mute, there comes a time when everybody says their first word. Sometimes, this is as young as six months, other times it's as old as two, and sometimes even older in people with certain disabilities and (in some, but by no means all cases) with autistic people. But anyway, this trope covers a baby saying their first word in fiction.
Sometimes, the whole plot is about the family trying to get the baby to talk, other times it only takes one scene, and other times, a Flash Back to a character being a baby and saying their first word happens.
When Played for Laughs, common gags include the baby not talking until the parents give up and then they say their first word, the baby's first word being a ridiculously big word for a baby, the first word having to do with something they really like (for example, a Big Eater having "dinner" as their first word), the first word being rude (for example, a swear word, an insult, or a minorly impolite word such as "poop"), the baby's first word stemming from them copying another character's Catch Phrase, and the baby becoming 100% verbal after saying their first word.
Commonly, the people will be trying to get the baby to say their name or their position in the family (for example the mother trying to get the baby to say "mommy"), and this may lead to arguments between the parents over whether the baby's first word will be "mommy" or "daddy".
If the baby does say "mommy", "daddy" or a person's name as their first word, it might lead to an emotional (as in making you cry happy tears) moment.
If somebody could talk all along but they never do up until now, that's Suddenly Speaking. If they become verbal extremely fast, it's a good bet they're a Brainy Baby. Can overlap with Early Personality Signs.
- Food Wars!: Erina Nakiri's first words were "Not enough depth of flavor" about her mother's breast milk when she was just three months old and developing a heightened sense of taste.
- Gakuen Babysitters: At the end of Usaida's Sick Episode, the infant Midori — who so far could only incoherently babble — pulls on his pants and exclaims "Udda!" twice; the shocked Ryuuichi wonders whether or not that was her attempting to say Usaida's name. Midori's mother's reaction after being informed that her daughter spoke the name of her babysitter instead of, say, either "Mama" or "Papa" is to pout in frustration while grudgingly telling Usaida that it's probably unfair to blame him for this coincidence.
- When Lovesoratchi is initially born in GO-GO Tamagotchi!, the only thing he can say is "labu". Near the end of GO-GO Tamagotchi! episode 17a, however, when Lovelitchi and Melodytchi come back home with him, Lovesoratchi says his first proper words - the names of his caretakers, "labu" ("love") and "mero" ("melo", short for "melody"). This is after his father Lovelipapatchi tries and fails to get him to say his name.
Lovelitchi and Melodytchi: So cute!!!
- In Tenchi Muyo!, Tenchi's cousin Taro's first words are "mama", which he calls Washu. This breaks her heart as she's just babysitting him (as the other girls are passed out exhausted by his antics) and it's reminding her of her lost child, which Tenchi and the others learn later in that episode.
- In one comic book involving a family of badgers and a family of foxes living together, one of the badger brothers accuses the other of cheating and they start yelling, "Did not!" and "Did too!" at one another, prompting their little sister Berry to say her first words ("did too").
- Viz: In the strip "The Modern Parents", Malcolm and Cressida want their child Guinivere's first word to be "dolphin", but Guinivere's big brother Tarquin teaches the baby to say "football" instead.
- Baby Blues, being a comic strip about parenting and families, naturally touched upon this. Zoe's first word was "Da-da," much to her mother Wanda's frustration (Zoe did eventually start saying "Ma-ma"...but only when her finger was up her nose). Wanda also hoped Hammie's first word would be "Ma-ma," but being the heavy equipment-loving little boy he is, his first word was "bulldozer" (and his second was "bazooka"). Youngest child Wren's first word was "Ma"...But when Wanda phoned her husband about it, Wren started shrieking "Dada" nonstop.
- In Dory's Babyhood Days, the chapter "Talking" has Dory from Finding Nemo say her first words "Dada", then "Mama".
- A flashback in We are the Night reveals Helena's first word was "Boosey," an attempt to say her father's name. Her brothers, who had been competing all week to see whose name she would say first, were devastated.
- In Nier: Automata (RE)Birth, Alexander's first word was "jackass". He was actually saying the name of a character whose name was Jackass, but A2 has a pretty negative reaction about teaching his adopted son a swear word.
- In The Second Try, chapter eight features Asuka trying to teach her daughter to say her first words. When the girl says "Mama", the mom tries to get her to say "Papa", but she says "Baga" instead.
- Tommy Pickles: The Terrible Twos: "Tommy's First Word" focuses on Tommy saying his first word to the grownups ("Reptar").
- Skyhold Academy Yearbook sees this happen in two different installments, with each of what are known as the "Skyhold babies."
- In And When You Smile, I Fall Apart Ron and George start arguing while trying to get Harry's godson Teddy to say their name. When Harry is forced to leave due to an issue at work, Teddy says "Harry."
- In the RWBY fic Flame's Shade, Ace's first word is "Ma" towards Blake. Blake is uncomfortable with this because she had hoped that Ace wouldn't latch onto her in such a way. Blake is her guardian but not her mother. Her mother Raven is dead.
- In Papa or Padfoot James and Sirius bet on what Harry's first word will be, with the loser having to do the dishes.
- clementine: Hollykit was the first of her siblings to speak. She nuzzled into her mother Squirrelflight and said "You're warm".
- In The Lion King: Hidden Stories, Mheetu's first word was "Nana", which is supposed to be his sister Nala's name.
- In the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory oneshot This Is As Close You'll Get To Hell, it's mentioned that Spoiled Brat Veruca's first word was "want" and Competition Freak Violet's first word was "winner".
- The very first chapter of The Joys and Sorrows of Young Charles Finster takes place when Chas Finster, later to be Chuckie's dad, is only two years old. Chas' first word was a Big "YES!" upon being successfully potty-trained. Angelica's dad, Drew Pickles, was also two at the time, and his first word was "pop," calling for his father Lou after he had a Potty Failure.
- The Loud House:
- In What You Wish For, Lori Loud remembers Lincoln's first word as one of her memories she has of Lincoln when everyone else can't remember him.
- Lincoln's Memories:
- It's mentioned in "Lola's First Bottle" that her first word was "no".
- In "Lincoln Chases the Rainbow", Lana's first word is said to have been "Doggy".
- Us and Them:
- Aeris' first word is Seph, since she can't quite say "Sephiroth", though it becomes Sephy, which becomes her pet name for him. Shortly after, she starts spouting "Papa", "Mama", and then things like "chump", "mo-won" and "milf". Her family is not amused by that last one.
- Years later, Aeris and Seph's own children start with some rather unusual words. Their eldest son's first word is "beef", and the rest of their children's are "no", "book", "yuck", "boom" and "uh-oh". The short story "Right Lesson, Wrong Time" ends with their youngest saying "poop". Cue mental facepalms from the rest of the family.
- In Their First Words Harry and Ginny compete to get their kids to say "mummy" or "daddy". James' first word is "Teddy", Albus' is "fuck" and Lily's is "broom".
- At the end of The Simpsons Movie, baby Maggie says "sequel" and her mother Marge excitedly proclaims it her first word. (Maggie's actual first word was spoken in the TV episode "Lisa's First Word", but nobody heard her.)
- In Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea, Lizabeth's parents mention that her first word was "fufu", as she was a Big Eater. This was brought up after Manaphy was able to say "happy".
- In Rugrats in Paris, Chuckie's first word was a Big "NO!", stopping his dad Chaz from marrying a woman seeking to take control of a Reptar-themed amusement park. Throughout the rest of the series, it's the only word he can say.
- In Hotel Transylvania 2, Dracula is unamused when his grandson's first word is "blah, blah, blah." It is shown afterwards that Mavis taught him to say that.
- The title character from Baby Driver is called such because of his quiet nature. Doc says they're waiting for him to say his first words.
- In Baby Geniuses, Whit convinces his sister Carrie to say "Dada" to get a strong reaction out of the older people in the house.
- In Look Who's Talking, we can hear baby Mikey's thoughts throughout the movie, but the climax comes when his first word is to call James "dada", which convinces his mother to give James a chance.
- Played for Laughs in Meet the Fockers: Greg's in-laws try to make their son Jack an Adorably Precocious Child before he's out of diapers, teaching him sign language and giving him plenty of educational material, but his first word becomes "asshole" after hearing Greg say it. The in-laws are not amused.
- Stuart Little 2: At the very end of the movie as Margalo is flying south for the winter, the Littles' baby daughter Martha says her first words, "Bye-bye, birdie!", as she waves to her. The family is astounded by this.
- One joke involves parents having this conversation about a baby's milestones:
Mother: Darling, today our son got his first tooth.
Mother: And he made his first step.
Mother: But upon making that first step, he fell down and lost his first tooth.
Father: Ouch, that's bad!
Mother: But upon losing his first tooth, he said his first word.
Mother: But if you only knew what it was...
- In the children's book Alvie Eats Soup, Alvie's first word was "mulligatawny".
- In the Dirty Bertie story "Bum!", Bertie's mother's friends Simon and Jenny are trying to teach their 14-month-old daughter to talk. When Bertie shouts "Bum!" as an exclamation, she copies him and that's her first word but because it's sort of rude, Bertie tries to keep her from saying it again.
- In Superfudge, Peter is changing his sister Tamara "Tootsie" Roxanne's diaper and says "Yuck," prompting her to say, "Yuck" back.
- In Harriet the Spy, Harriet thinks her first word was "Proceed" but then finds out it was actually "cookie".
- In the children's book Knuffle Bunny (the "K" is pronounced), a little girl Trixie says "Knuffle Bunny" as her first words after losing her toy bunny at the laundromat.
- There was a Sesame Street book published in 1994 called Me Cookie!, which featured a baby Cookie Monster named "Baby Monster". Early on in the book, he struggles to say the word "Cookie".
- In the Paul Jennings story "Smart Ice Cream", the main character says that his first words were a sentence, on the first day of his life: "Hey, cut it out, Mom, that tickles," however, he was probably mistaken or lying.
- In the children's book Your Baby's First Word Will be 'Dada', some animal dads try to get their babies to say, "dada" but their first words end up being animal noises (such as "meow").
- In Wicked, Elphaba didn't speak until she was nearly 2. Her first word was "horrors", repeating what Turtle Heart had said about his troubled past in Quadling Country. Turtle Heart is the only one that cares that Elphaba's said her first word.
- The Benny Hill Show: In a long segment parodying The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman where they get together and have a son, called "The Bionic Baby":
Steve: He's four years old, it's time he learned to talk.
Jamie: He does love his chicken soup though.
Steve: Here, let me give it to him. [to the baby] Hi there, little fella, gonna have some of papa's chickie soupie doopie.
[Steve feeds some soup to the baby, who spits it out]
Baby: Phew, man. Wow. Sheep dip. You call that chicken soup?
Jamie: He can talk! Hey Steve, he can talk.
Baby: [mocking] "He can talk, he can talk!" Big... deal.
Jamie: But why did you wait 'til now to talk? Why didn't you talk before?
Baby: 'Cause up until now, the chicken soup's been OK.
- Breaking Bad: Holly's first words are calling for her mother. This is heartbreaking because it happens after her father, Walt, has kidnapped her after his secrets have been exposed and he's about to go on the run. Purportedly, this was the baby actress calling for her real mother off camera but Bryan Cranston took advantage of the opportunity and kept in-character.
- Castle: Novelist Richard Castle mentions that his daughter Alexis's first word was "denouement" since he stressed story structure at an early age.
- Cheers: Frasier brings his 11-month old son Frederick to the bar for the day. Meanwhile, Norm has to keep leaving the bar to feed the new parking meter, each time re-entering to his usual greeting of "NORM!" Later, when Lilith arrives and discovers that Frasier took Frederick to the bar, she gets upset. This exchange results:
Frasier:...I thought that Frederick might enjoy himself.
Lilith: Enjoy himself in a bar? He's 11 months old. What kind of values can he learn here?
Frasier: Well, I thought the place had a lot to offer.
Lilith: Oh, please, he'll never learn to speak in this environment.
Norm: Afternoon, everybody.
[everyone looks at Frederick, amazed]
Lilith: He said, "Mommy!"
- In Drake & Josh, the brothers are babysitting for their father's boss. The baby doesn't actually say his first words, but the brothers end up losing him on the roof and when Josh is on the phone with the baby's mother, he says "Mama" in a baby voice, which makes the mother think the baby said his first word. Later, she tries to make him say it again but it doesn't work.
- In the first season of Family Matters, Rachael says he heard an infant Richie say "Mama", then tries to get him to do it for the family and get it on audio cassette. upon hearing of this, Estelle says Carl's first word was "donut". Richie says "Mama" at the end of the episode, when he's left alone in the kitchen.
- In Friends:
- Ross is disappointed because the custody arrangement with his ex-wife means he keeps missing the first time Ben does things. He takes Ben for a whole weekend and tries to encourage the boy to speak with no success. Eventually Ben does say his first word ("Hi") but it's when Ross is out of the room and Rachel is watching him. Ross is disappointed that he missed another first but cheers up when Ben says his second word ("Bye") as Carol's taking him home.
- Rachel gets excited by Emma saying her first word, "gleba". At first, Ross doesn't think it's a real word, but then Rachel looks it up in the dictionary and finds out that it means "fleshy, spore-bearing inner mass of certain fungi" and he thinks it means she will grow up to be a scientist.
- In How I Met Your Mother, Marshall and his infant son Marvin manage to hitch ride with the titular Mother going to Farhampton. While they'e driving and talking about the Mother's slimy bandmate, Marshall offers to shout "the singer sucks skunkjunk" while the band plays. Suddenly, Marvin utters the word "skunkjunk" which is his very first word, much to Marshall and the Mother's horror.
Marshall: For the record, his first word was "Mommy".
- Jane the Virgin: Mateo says his first word ("dada") in one episode. This leads to minor drama between former romantic rivals Rafael (his biological father) and Michael (his stepfather), since he says it to Michael instead of Rafael.
- In Mad About You, Paul is in the hospital for surgery right around the time that his daughter Mabel might start talking, so his cousin Ira is trying to get Mabel to say "truck." Just as Paul is being taken away to surgery, Mabel says her first word: schmuck.
- Midsomer Murders: In "Breaking the Chain", John and Sarah Barnaby spend the episode trying to get their infant daughter Betty to say her first word: either "Dada" (what John wants) or "Mama" (what Sarah wants). Eventually, it's "dog".
- In Scrubs, Doctor Cox's son Jack's first complete sentence is "Daddy drinks a lot" in response to Jordan making the Drinky-Drinky motion about Dr Cox's inebriated current state.
- Sesame Street:
- In one episode, Snuffy tries to teach Natasha her first words, but due to his negativity when she doesn't say them (even though some of the words are things like "refrigerator"), her first words end up being, "Oh, dear".
- The baby cuckoo bird Cathy's first words were singing the alphabet; she started singing as soon as she hatched, which apparently is normal for cuckoos in the Sesame Street universe.
- Kevin & Kell:
- Coney's first word was 'squeak', said while she was trying to hunt mice. Kell ponders whether a hunting call should actually count as her first word or not...then Coney says her second word, 'salt'. The rest of the comic has her try to say 'mama', 'daddy' and 'Rudy' before she completely freezes at 'Lindesfarne' and goes back to saying 'salt'.
- Turvy's first word was 'mama'. Unfortunately, she still only can communicate through echolocation, so Lindesfarne had to have Rudy tell her what she said.
- this article lists some parents talking about their babies' unusual first words. note
- Arthur: Zigzagged with Arthur and D.W.'s little sister Kate. Sometimes, they think she said her first word but she was only babbling. Other times, she says actual words but they don't remember if they're her first.
- The Hive: The episode "Babee's First Word" involves the kids trying to get the baby bee (known as Babee) to say her first word. She eventually does. It's "night night".
- In the Martha Speaks episode "Martha the Hero Maker", Helen's little brother Jake says his first word "door" which helps out Helen and some of the other characters who were locked behind a door.
- At the end of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Baby Cakes", Pound Cake says his first word (Pinkie) and then his twin sister Pumpkin Cake says her first word ("pie"), because Pinkie Pie had been babysitting them.
- Apparently, in Peppa Pig, Peppa's first word was "Mummy" and George's was "dinosaur" because he's always been interested in dinosaurs. We get to see Peppa and George's little cousin Alexander say his word too. It's "puddles," because everyone in the Peppa Pig universe enjoys jumping in muddy puddles.
- Pinky and the Brain: The episode "Brinky" has an example of the Brain trying to teach Roman Numeral One to speak. The Brain notes that something is wrong when the clone is not responding to the words "thermogalvanometer" and "magnetohydrodynamics", since it is supposed to be intellectually identical to him (unaware that Pinky accidentally interfered with the cloning process). He then tries to teach Roman to say the word "neurofibromatosis", but Roman ends up saying "Narf!".
- In Rick and Morty episode "Raising Gazorpazorp", Morty is raising a Half-Human Hybrid baby he was having with a female from an alien Proud Warrior Race. When the time comes for the little one to speak its first word, Morty is shocked when the words emerging are not "Dada" but "Death" and "Domination".
- In "At the Movies", the first word Tommy ever said to the adults was "Reptar" to try to tell them that he wanted to see a Reptar movie after seeing a commercial for it on television. This gets a Call-Back in a later episode, "Incident in Aisle Seven", when Tommy sees a commercial for Reptar Cereal, and he tries to tell the adults that the wants some. Stu believes that Tommy is saying "Rip-roar", and Didi believes that Tommy is saying "Riffraff".
- In a flashback in "No More Cookies", Angelica's first word was "Cookie". Charlotte and Drew tried to get her to say "Mommy" and "Daddy", respectively, and are confused when Angelica keeps saying "Cookie".
- In Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, the first word Chuckie ever said to the adults was "No!" in an effort to keep Chas from marrying Coco LaBouche. In post-Rugrats in Paris episodes, "No" is the only word Chuckie ever says to the adults, regardless of whether or not it makes sense in that context.
- An episode of The Simpsons, "Lisa's First Word" was all about this, as Homer and Marge told the stories of Bart's & Lisa's first words while awaiting Maggie's. Bart's first utterance was "Ay carumba!", while Lisa's was "Bart." Homer remarks that considering how mouthy Bart and Lisa turned out, he'd be just as happy if Maggie never said anything. The episode ends with Maggie, alone and unheard, saying her first word: "Daddy."
- In the episode "Baby's First Word" of The Smurfs, the Baby's first word turns out to be "Gargamel".
- In the Pound Puppies (2010) episode "Little Monster", J.D.'s first word is "Noodles", the name of his parents' puppy.
- At the end of the 101 Dalmatian Street episode "The de Vil Wears Puppies", Dorothy says "Bye-bye" as Cruella is pushed into the back of a police van by a severely ticked off PC Pearl. Her mom, dad, Dylan, and Dolly are astounded, both siblings sharing their sentiments.