Park Slope Speech Therapy - Early Developmental Milestones for Language (part 1 of 2): First Year

Language development begins well before you hear your child's happily awaited first word. When your child looks at your face, that is the beginning of communication skills. When your child smiles in response to your smile, that is the beginning of communication. When your child vocalizes and you can tell that she's happy or sad or hungry, that is the beginning of communication skills. We have approximate ages when parents should expect to see various communicative behaviors. It is important to keep in mind that there is range of ages that is considered typical for any language behavior.

Babies generally begin to look at their parents' faces within the first month of life. You may also notice that your child's cries are quieted by the sound of your voice. It may be a surprise to know that your child has actually been hearing your voice for many months since hearing is developed before your child is born.

Over the next couple of months, your child begins to vocalize in a variety of ways, not just crying (thank goodness!) and you may be able to tell when he is hungry, tired or contented. You will hear squeals and chuckles. He'll vocalize in response to your voice, too and you'll see his social smile. Gradually, you'll begin to notice some consonant sounds and then, the beginning of babbling behavior, what is commonly known as "baby talk".

At around the age of 6 months, sounds that are not in the baby's native language begin to drop out. This does not occur in children that cannot hear. The repetition of syllables (as in ba-ba-ba) decreases, as your baby begins to use more single syllables, and it might sound more like ba-di-nu. Your baby will begin to vocalize in response to talking, almost like she's participating in the conversation. Your child's vocalizations should increase in quantity and variety. And of course, we all hear that meaningful first words occur at around the age of one year.