The scenario has played out so many times, it's almost a cliché. You spend months prepping your baby to say "mama," but the first words out of her mouth are, of course, "dada." Babies are just funny like that. But it may cause you to wonder: does my baby really know who "Dada" is? Trying to piece together exactly how much of the world your baby understands is an interesting enterprise.
Sure, there's plenty of evidence that babies can recognize their mother even before birth, but the specifics of their relationship with dad can be a little more difficult to understand. In general, though, researchers have found that babies likely recognize the faces of both parents within two months of birth, as noted on Baby Center. Babies are quick learners, after all, and they're certain to recognize any frequent caretaker pretty quickly.
Additionally, babies can likely recognize that friendly man in the house as dad before their first birthday. According to Kids Health, a baby aged 8 to 12 months will likely be able to look at the man in question when you ask, "Where's Dad?" Your baby probably knows dad by name at this point, and he may even start saying the famous "dada" word. It's an inspiring time for any father. And the dads who take the time to bond with their babies will be rewarded a thousand times over with similar tokens of affection and recognition from their kids. It's a beautiful thing.
Although that's sweet, what's up with the whole "dada" as a first word phenomenon? Well, it may not be anything moms or dads should take too personally. As explained in the Daily Mail, babies are typically able to form the "D" sound before the "M" sound, thanks to their developing motor controls. So when your baby is chanting "dada," it may just mean your little one is trying out new vocal sounds, without any real regard for their meaning. That said, it's perfectly fine if you want to interpret all of those "dada" (and later "mama") vocalizations as tiny declarations of love from your little one.