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Baby Speech Development Timeline and Milestones from Birth to One Year

There is no shortage of milestones in your baby’s first year of life, including speech development. Here’s a general timeline and what to know.

You just had a baby! Congrats. Now, your pediatrician is asking whether they’re making sounds and gesturing. Already?! Help!

During the baby’s first 12 months, there are some significant milestones they will typically meet – many of those speech and language-related. I’m here to explain these, when to expect them, and how to approach your pediatrician with any questions or concerns. I’ll also include some quick tips on how to foster development.

An important note on milestones

There are some exceptions to the milestone charts, and not all little ones will follow these steps. All children are unique.

If you have concerns about your child’s language development, please get in touch with your pediatrician and a local speech-language pathologist.

Often, pediatricians will recommend “wait and see.” However, if your child is not meeting these milestones and you have questions, a professional can help.

Early intervention is critical and an excellent resource that provides parents with the tools and strategies needed to foster language development in their little ones from birth through toddlerhood.

Your baby’s speech development timeline

Birth to three months

During the first three months of life, the baby learns about you. They hear your voice and all the new, strange, and exciting sounds around them. They’re curious!

According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, babies will begin to recognize their mother’s voice, react to loud noises, be awakened by loud sounds, and communicate their feelings of joy or frustration by making noises like coos or cries.

Four to six months

Between 4 and 6 months of age, babies will begin to respond to your attempts to chat with vocalizations of their own, notice changes in intonation, begin to imitate short speech sounds, and begin to experience the absolute magic that is a toy that makes noise. Bring out those rattles!

Seven to eleven months

Between 7 and 11 months, things accelerate in the area of speech and language development.

CHOP states that babies may respond to their name, recognize words used often, babble (for example, “ma ma,” “da da,” “ba ba”), attempt to communicate their needs using gestures, respond to requests (such as no, or come), and may even begin using simple words or baby signs.

One year old

Around 12 months of age, the baby will be able to understand simple, one-step instructions, recognize and comprehend phrases used often, and attempt to imitate simple words.

At this time, your little one will most likely enjoy reading and have a favorite book or two – or three or four.

See Also

Professional tips for developing your baby’s speech

Some tips for language development from a pediatric speech-language pathologist, early interventionist, and mother.

1. Read as much as possible

Read! Read as much as possible with your baby, and start at birth. Often it feels strange when they’re still a newborn, but at this point, they’re learning your voice (and comforted by it), you’re building the habit, and you’re bonding. It’s the best!

2. Be face-to-face with your baby

Get down on the floor with your baby! Chat with them about anything and everything, and make sure they can see your face. They will learn about articulation by watching your mouth and observing your every expression. Soon, they’ll imitate, too!

3. Narrate everything

Making breakfast? “We’re going to have pancakes today. Here’s a bowl; let’s mix, mix, mix!”

Taking a bath? “Let’s take a bath. We’re turning the water on. Let’s use some soap! Scrub, scrub, scrub.”

This simple, everyday narration exposes your child to tons of language they can eventually use during their daily routine.

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