Speech and Language Development

Birth-12 months

It is NEVER too early to focus on providing your baby with a stimulating environment that facilitates and encourages speech and language development. Your baby heard your voice for months before he was even born. Don't stop talking now. Talk with your baby about your day, explain what you are doing, read Babble Books (there's a good chance your baby will be able to say many of the words in Stage One around 1 year), and use that singsongy voice that comes so naturally to parents (there's actually a term for it- motherese!) The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA)* recognizes the following milestones in speech and language development for birth-12 months. Remember, every child's development is unique to that child.

Speech Development:

Birth–3 Months

  • Makes cooing sounds.

  • Cries change for different needs.

  • Smiles at people.

4–6 Months

  • Coos and babbles when playing alone or with you. 

  • Makes speech-like babbling sounds, like pa, ba, and mi.

  • Giggles and laughs.

  • Makes sounds when happy or upset.

7 Months–1 Year

  • Babbles long strings of sounds, like mimi upup babababa.

  • Uses sounds and gestures to get and keep attention.

  • Points to objects and shows them to others.

  • Uses gestures like waving bye, reaching for “up,” and shaking his head no.

  • Imitates different speech sounds, likely the ones found in Babble Books Stage One

  • Says 1 or 2 words, like hi, dog, dada, mama, or uh-oh. This will happen around his first birthday, but sounds may not be clear. 

Hearing and Understanding:

Birth–3 Months

  • Startles at loud sounds.

  • Quiets or smiles when you talk.

  • Seems to recognize your voice. Quiets if crying. 

4–6 Months

  • Moves her eyes in the direction of sounds.

  • Responds to changes in your tone of voice.

  • Notices toys that make sounds.

  • Pays attention to music.

7 Months–1 Year

  • Turns and looks in the direction of sounds.

  • Looks when you point.

  • Turns when you call her name.

  • Understands words for common items and people—words like cup, truck, juice, and daddy.

  • Starts to respond to simple words and phrases, like “No,” “Come here,” and “Want more?”

  • Plays games with you, like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake.

  • Listens to songs and stories for a short time.

*Reference: https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/01.htm accessed 5/14/18

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