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Baby language development from birth to one year. Find out what speech milestones you should be tracking in your child’s speech development.

The development of language is an exciting time!  Who can resist cooing and babbling back to your baby (or anyone’s baby) when he/she makes those joyful first sounds?  Who can contain their excitement when you hear that first true word?  Not me!  Oh, the joys of sounds and words!  Just as a child’s expressive language develops, so does their receptive language.  Receptive language refers to what your child understands.  Expressive language refers to the sounds and words your child uses to express himself.  Here is a milestone chart from the American Speech and Hearing Association for understanding and use of language.  You will also find a list of activities to help your child develop these skills. 

Baby Language Development  – BIRTH to ONE YEAR

Baby Language Development Birth to One Year Old Speech Milestones

Hearing and Understanding


Birth–3 Months

Startles to loud sounds

Quiets or smiles when spoken to

Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying

Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound

Birth–3 Months

Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)

Cries differently for different needs

Smiles when sees you

4–6 Months

Moves eyes in direction of sounds

Responds to changes in tone of your voice

Notices toys that make sounds

Pays attention to music

4–6 Months

Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m

Chuckles and laughs

Vocalizes excitement and displeasure

Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with you

7 Months–1 Year

Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake

Turns and looks in direction of sounds

Listens when spoken to

Recognizes words for common items like “cup”, “shoe”, “book”, or “juice”

Begins to respond to requests (e.g. “Come here” or “Want more?”)

7 Months–1 Year

Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as “tata upup bibibibi”

Uses speech or noncrying sounds to get and keep attention

Uses gestures to communicate (waving, holding arms to be picked up)

Imitates different speech sounds

Has one or two words (hi, dog, dada, mama) around first birthday, although sounds may not be clear

Baby Language Development   What can I do to help?

  • Check your child’s ability to hear, and pay attention to ear problems and infections, especially when they keep occurring.
  • Reinforce your baby’s communication attempts by looking at him or her, speaking, and imitating his or her vocalizations.
  • Repeat his or her laughter and facial expressions.
  • Teach your baby to imitate actions, such as peekaboo, clapping, blowing kisses, pat-a-cake, itsy bitsy spider, and waving bye-bye. These games teach turn taking that is needed for conversation.
  • Talk while you are doing things, such as dressing, bathing, and feeding (e.g., “Mommy is washing Sam’s hair”; “Sam is eating carrots”; “Oh, these carrots are good!”).
  • Talk about where you are going, what you will do once you get there, and who and what you’ll see (e.g., “Sam is going to Grandma’s house. Grandma has a dog. Sam will pet the dog.”).
  • Teach animal sounds (e.g., “A cow says ‘moo'”).
  • Communicate with your child in the language you are most comfortable using.

Follow this link to the American Speech and Hearing Association’s website.  You will find numerous articles on speech, language, and hearing.


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