Speech and language development milestones relate to receptive
language (the ability to understand words and sounds) and expressive language
(the ability to use speech and gestures to communicate meaning).
Receptive language skills are the first communication skills learned.
In the womb, babies hear and respond to familiar voices.
Soon after birth, your baby starts to learn expressive language skills. Around 6 to 9 months of age, most babies begin to make the link between sound and meaning. By 12 months, they may have mastered a few words and usually understand far more.
Speech and language milestones
Babies less than 1 month old:
Listen to the rhythm and melodies of
Usually can pick out their mothers’
Learn the rhythm and melodies of two languages when both are
frequently spoken in their environment.
Use undifferentiated crying, which is
crying that sounds the same and does not vary by specific need.
1- to 4-month-old babies:
As early as 1 month, may recognize the
basic and distinct sounds of a language (phonemes), such as “tr” and
Prefer “baby talk” and voices with high pitch.
Become alert to sounds by blinking or widening eyes; may start to
be awakened by noise, become startled, or turn toward a sound to look for its
Will quiet to their mothers’ voices.
Make cooing sounds, often vowel sounds such
as “ah-ah-ah” or “ooh-ooh-ooh.”
At about 3 months, make cooing
sounds back to someone who is talking to them.
5- to 6-month-olds:
Recognize their own names.
Make sounds like “goo” and blow bubbles at
the same time.
At about 6 months, start to babble, repeat sounds,
such as “ma-ma-ma” or “bah-bah-bah” to get attention or express
By 6 months of age, vary their cries to signal specific
7- to 9-month-olds:
Hear words as distinct sounds.
By 9 months, usually recognize the meaning of some facial
expressions and tone of voice, such as when a parent says “No!”
Repeat sounds that they
Mimic the rhythm of the way others talk to
May say words like “mama” and “dada.”
By 9 months
may wave “bye-bye” when prompted.
10- to 12-month-olds:
Begin to follow simple commands like “give me the toy.”
Usually understand “mama” and “dada” and
can identify each parent.
Correctly refer to each parent as “mama” or
Use the index finger to point to things they want and need.
At about 12 months, say a few single words other than “mama” or