Sunday, February 26, 2012

Language Milestones: Birth to 12 Months

Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP
Developing language skills and the growth of cognitive abilities allow children to interact with the surrounding world. 

Language development begins before birth as the baby perceives the sounds of the womb. There is evidence that the baby possesses receptive language ability well before birth. She can hear and respond to environmental sounds and start to develop memories of them.

Expressive language development also begins early. Cooing, which is when the baby produces vowel sounds, begins in the first two months of life. Increased volume in cooing begins to develop around one month of age, and pitch variability can be noticed between two and four months of age. During that time, when you converse with your infant, you should notice some variation in tone. These “conversations” are a great exercise that teaches your baby the art of conversing.

By six months of age infants should start to babble. The ability to babble requires coordination of muscles on the pharynx. When babbling begins these muscles get exercised, and your infant discovers her ability to talk. By nine months of age you should hear your baby say “mama" or "dada." Often “dada” is heard first, because the nasal sound “m” is harder to produce than the “d” sound. But don’t worry, she will say “mama” pretty soon--especially if you practice with her!

Between 9 and 12 months your baby will start to point to objects. This is a very important language milestone, as it proceeds the naming of objects. By the age of one year, a child usually has learned one other word besides “mama” and “dada” and is able to follow one-step commands.

By 3 months:

By 6 months:

By 9 months:

By 12 months:

The baby turns to soft voices,
especially the voices of his/her parents.

The baby produces cooing sounds and
smiles responsively.

The baby turns to familiar sounds,
laughs, and coos.

The baby babbles "mamama," "bababa," and
knows his/her name, and turns when called.

The child has learned one word other than
“mama” and “dada” and follows one-step commands.

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