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  • Genna Nichol

Speech and Language Milestones 0–12 Months

In the first twelve months of life, your baby will go from a tiny newborn to a little person with their own ideas. It is an exciting time of rapid changes—for you and your little one! This article provides a list of the typical speech and language milestones most children will achieve in their first year.

Developmental milestones baby reaching for toys on a mobile
Baby reaching for toys on a mobile

Play milestones:

  • Engage in solitary play (play on their own)

  • Laugh during play

  • Enjoy simple and interactive games such as peek-a-boo

  • Clap when prompted

  • Extend toys to others

  • Imitate an adult's actions

  • Show interest in playing with different objects

  • Around 9 months, start relational play where they enjoy putting objects inside other objects, and repeating over

  • Around 8 months, will begin to look for a toy that is out of sight (object permanence)

Social milestones:

  • Smile in response to a smile from the caregiver

  • Follow the caregiver's gaze and demonstrate joint attention (paying attention to an object at the same time as the caregiver)

  • Are interested in what the caregiver points to

  • Seek comfort from a caregiver and seem to be comforted by the caregiver's voice

  • Look at and are interested in faces and voices

  • Differentiate facial expressions and tones of voice (e.g., sad, angry, happy)

  • Imitate sounds, actions, and gestures (e.g., waving bye, clapping)

  • Participate taking turns through babbling

  • Express feelings through vocalizations or gestures

Speech milestones

  • Coo, grunt, babble, and make other noises

  • Begin to babble longer strings of the same sounds (bababa, mamama)

Expressive language milestones:

  • Use gestures to make requests for items and actions (e.g., up, no) and to direct attention (i.e., to show someone something)

  • Imitate speech sounds

  • Use their first word by one year, usually “hi”, “mama”, “dada”

Receptive language milestones:

  • Turn when their name is called and toward the direction of sounds

  • Understand the words for common items and people (e.g., mommy, daddy, cup)

  • Start to respond to simple words and phrases (e.g., “no”, “more?”)

It is important to remember these are milestones for most children at this age, but each child develops at their own rate. However, if your child has not met a significant number of these milestones or if you are concerned with your child's development, please see your family doctor who can do a thorough assessment and suggest next steps.


We offer speech and language assessments and therapy for children of all ages.


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