Communication – What to expect from Birth to 12 months

Communication development in the first twelve months is always exciting, as you experience your little one becoming more and more responsive as each month rolls around. So what can you expect to observe in the first year?

Receptive Language (Understanding of Language)


* Learning of language begins at birth as babies are aware of environmental sounds

0-3 months        

* Responds to voice and noise, turning to the sounds

* Learn to turn to the speaker

4-6 months        

* Babies enjoy sound making toys and books

* They tend to respond to voice tone changes and “no”

6-9 months        

* Understands his/her own name and will turn in response to hearing it

* Imitation of greeting actions; such as waving ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’

* Understands “Where’s Mummy/ Daddy?”, “no”, own name

10-12 months

* Simple actions such as clapping or waving may occur when asked

* Recognition of familiar objects occurs e.g. “nose”, “ball”, “Nana”

* Begins to respond to simple requests e.g. “give to mummy”

Expressive Language & Speech Sounds


* Sounds are made by newborns often to express pleasure or pain

0-3 months       

* Lots of “coos” occur at this time, sounds are often repeated and eye contact frequently made

* Different cries occur that communicate pain/hunger

4-6 months        

* Sound play increases with lots of babbling occurring

* Sounds babbled tend to be “p”, “b”, “m” sounds

* You may hear babbling when your baby is playing happily on his/her own

* Noises/sounds are made to express they want something

7-12 months     

* Babbling changes its form to longer sound sequences; often x 2 part e.g. “dada”, “mama”

* More sounds are used such as; d, m, n, h, w, t

* Intonation is used (sing song patterns) like adult speech

* Babbling occurs with self and others

* Sounds are used other than crying for attention

* Excitingly – your baby’s first words arrive around 12 months of age!


If you are concerned at all about your child’s communication development; speaking to a Speech Pathologist or your family doctor is always a good idea!



Reference: Speech Pathology Australia – Fact Sheets www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au  


This article was published in the June 2015 issue of Shire’s Children magazine www.shireschildren.com.au.

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Mother of three young children, and senior level Speech & Language Pathologist. Sonia founded a successful Sydney based private practice in 2006. She regularly presents community seminars, writes articles for parent magazines and does guest speaker gigs on community radio. Sonia enjoys writing, and hopes one day to be a published children's picture book author too!

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