Although each child develops at her own pace, language development usually follows the same predictable pattern.
Language milestones 0 to 12 months:
- A baby who is between a day and a week old recognises her mother’s voice and responds to it.
- At this stage her expressive vocabulary consists of crying – this is the only way she can tell you – and the world – how she feels.
- From 6 weeks onwards your baby begins to communicate by smiling, and your positive response will encourage her to do so more often.
- She will start to respond to her name and you will probably hear her laugh for the first time.
- Between 2 and 5 months, she will start making cooing sounds and as her vocal cords develop she will experiment with making different sounds.
- By 6 months your baby begins to babble. During the next 6 months your child will begin babbling ‘conversations’ and she will start to recognise sounds associated with actions, such as ‘clap your hands’ and ‘wave goodbye’.
- Although she doesn’t use the correct words yet, she is able to make herself understood by using intonation and by combining her babbling language with gestures.
Language milestones 12 to 18 months:
- Your little one will say her first real word between the ages of 12 and 15 months. You may not always be able to understand exactly what she is saying, but you will learn to decipher her language soon enough.
- Babies’ first words are usually the names of objects such as ‘bottle’ or ‘teddy’, as well as the names of people they know well such as ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’, and words indicating actions such as ‘bye bye’.
- Between 15 and 18 months her speech will develop rapidly.
- A child of 18 months may have an expressive vocabulary of up to 50 words, and a firm understanding of about 200 words.
- Your child can identify simple pictures and will begin to use two-word constructions.
Always keep in mind that these milestones depend on how frequently you communicate with your child, so talk, talk and talk.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.