iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A mother in Northern Ireland was astounded when her son managed to greet her with a tiny “hello” at just 7 weeks old.
Toni McCann, of Belfast, Ireland, said her son Cillian, now 9 weeks, has said “hello” twice. The first time she had her camera trained on him as she slowly pronounced the word for her son.
The infant appeared to try and unsuccessfully imitate his mother before finally managing a quick “hello” for the first time.
“He was making a lot of eye contact and that’s why I started filming him,” she told ABC News. “I realized he was trying to copy what I was saying it and then it just came out.”
McCann said she first noticed Cillian trying to mimic sounds at just 5 weeks old when her husband was holding him.
“Cillian’s tongue [was] to come out and…he was trying to imitate to talking,” she said. McCann said her son has said “hello” just one other time when one of her daughters was talking with the baby.
Gail Murray, director of Audiology Services at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, said the video is a great example of how infants start to learn to speak by focusing on their parent’s faces.
“This is a perfect example of modeling behavior, mom is coaching him to do what she’s doing,” said Murray. “It’s an important example of what we want all mothers to do with their baby.”
Murray said the Cillian’s first “hello” may seem impressive, but is part of the normal development for infants as they progress from mimicry to babbling to saying single words with meaning, which usually happens around 11 to 12 months.
Murray said Cillian’s first word is likely not the same as a 1 to 2-year-old’s first word, where they have attached the word to some meaning.
“They don’t have muscle coordination of the mouth,” Murray said of newborn infants. “It’s usually a process of both learning what words mean by hearing them and by seeing mom and by trying to imitate mom over and over again.”
Murray said new moms should talk to their babies, even if the infants can’t say full words yet. She also recommended letting babies “talk back” in the conversation, even if they don’t have full words yet.
While the video of Cillian saying hello has gone viral, McCann said she has already moved on to a new phrase for the baby.
“Now I’m saying to him ‘I love you,'” McCann told ABC News.
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