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Speech and Language Milestones: Baby’s First Year

Your baby’s first year of life is an exciting time of significant speech and language development, both in what your child understands and expresses. Even though most babies are not yet talking, their “pre-” speech and language skills are blossoming in amazing ways. Here are some of the major speech and language milestones your baby will likely experience over the first year.

Birth–3 months


“Goos” and “coos” to indicate pleasure

Uses different cries to express different needs

Smiles upon seeing caregiver


Startles upon hearing loud noises

Smiles or quiets when spoken to

Recognizes caregiver’s voice and will stop crying when voice is heard

When sounds are heard, decreases or increases sucking 

4–6 Months


Babbles using many different sounds such as p, b, m

Laughs and giggles

Indicates excitement and displeasure through vocalizations

Gurgles during play


Shifts eyes to direction of a sound

Recognizes when caregiver changes tone of voice

Realizes that certain toys make noise

Listens attentively to music 

7–12 Months


Babbles short and long strings of sounds (e.g. “baba atat mimimimi”)

Gains attention by using speech sounds

Communicates using gestures such as waving or lifting arms up to be held

Imitates a variety of sounds

Produces first word or two by first birthday


Likes to play games such as pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo

Turns body or head toward direction of sounds

Listens when being spoken to

Recognizes common objects when named, such as “book,” “cup,” or “shoe”

Starts responding to simple directions (“Sit down”) or requests (“Want more?”)

Keep in mind that as with all milestones, these are general guidelines for typical development.  All children are unique and develop speech and language in their own way.  However, if your child is consistently not meeting speech and language milestones and you are concerned, it’s best to act fast and talk to your pediatrician.

More in milestones:

Why developmental milestones will make you crazy

Newborn to 1 Month: Emotional Development

Newborn to 1 Month: Physical Development

Newborn to 1 Month: Cognitive Development

2-4 Months: Physical Development

2-4 Months: Emotional Development

2-4 Months: Cognitive Development

5-7 Months: Emotional Development

5-7 Months: Physical Development

8-12 Months: Emotional Development

8-12 Months: Cognitive Development

8-12 Months: Physical Development

12-15 Months: Emotional Development

12-15 Months: Physical Development

12-15 Months: Cognitive Development

16-19 Months: Emotional Development

16-19 Months: Physical Development

16-19 Months: Cognitive Development

20-24 Months: Emotional Development

20-24 Months: Physical Development

20-24 Months: Cognitive Development

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, December 2018


  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • Speech Development. 

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