Luis Alcantara
Does anyone know why this happens?

Hi, everyone I have noticed that babies from all over other world refer to their mom as "mama".

I found this very weird, because even though they have an specific name to say mom in their language they all seem to agree that "mama" means mom. so if anyone knows or want to comment feel free to do so 

Mar 23, 2017 10:46 PM
Comments · 4

try to make a noise with your mouth closed like hmmm and then open the mouth, you'll make the M sound, it's a bilabial nasal sound, the babies are only making noise and when they open the mouth they do an M, the babies first try to communicate is to call their mothers to feed them, and when they make this mama their mother will come, that's why in almost all the languages, even unrelated ones, the word for mother starts with m.

March 23, 2017
Actually, it is very easy to explain. The first and the main function of a mother is feeding, to be exact breastfeeding. So, a baby in its first days of life associates a mother with her breastmilk and a very comforting process of eating. While we eat (or suck the breast milk) we tend to smack and generate m-sounds. It is somehow physiological, I suppose. In the smacking sounds, the basic natural consonant is m-sound. 

Very soon, babies start to imitate the smacking m-sounds and smacking and sucking lips movements to signal that they are hungry. But if a baby is hungry and its mother doesn't come (or the baby is too impatient) he starts to cry. If you try to combine the m-sound with crying (which is based on the a-sound) you'll get the ma-syllable. So, it very easy for a baby associate the ma-sound with a mode to summon its mother ('mama' is someone who comes when I am hungry or when I am crying because I am wet, feel pain etc). Women, as well, somehow subconsciously use this ma-sound to identify and name themselves in front of their babies.

Lately, ma-based words could be transformed into something else but mostly in all language, it remains as it is. For example, in my mother tongue, which is Russian, it remains "мама" = mama. In English, different versions (mom, mum, mommy, mama, mamma, mummy, ma, mam) always contain ma-syllable. In other European languages, the same thing... Even the Biblical word 'manna' based on this sound because manna is something just given gratis as the mother's milk. @Aki gave the excellent example "manma" = food...our first food is always the breast milk given by our mothers.

In a nutshell, the word 'mama' is an example of onomatopoeia and that is why children so easily embrace it.
March 24, 2017

I agree with Ivair about how it started. 

Just for your information, in Japanese, manma refers to food:)

March 24, 2017
I like comments above, but maybe it's much easier to explain it in this way. Moms don't spend their time with their babies silently, right? They say this word 'mama' or 'mom' a million times during a day by referring to their babies: mom does this, mom does that. Babies simply have no choice but to repeat this word.
March 24, 2017