Babies begin developing language at birth. By 12 months, they may
have mastered a few words and usually understand far more. Speech development
is extremely variable, but language skills develop in many subtle ways.
At 1 month of age, infants turn to a soft voice,
especially a parent's voice. Around 3 to 6 weeks of age, babies use different
cries to communicate, such as a shrill cry for pain or a whimpering cry for
At 2 months of age, babies begin to "talk" by cooing,
making "ih" and "uh" sounds. They may show some variation in tone and will coo
back. Babies respond to familiar voices and watch the speaking
Around 5 months of age, infants begin to express themselves
by babbling. They repeat consonant sounds like "ba," "ma," or "ga" to get
attention and express feeling. Some babies may recognize their own
Between 6 and 9 months of age, babies repeat sounds they
hear. Babbling continues, but they may also mimic the rhythm of the way others
talk to them. By 9 months, babies can recognize the word "no" and wave
"bye-bye" when prompted. It is during this time that babies begin to make the link between sound and meaning.
Around 10 months of age, babies begin to follow simple commands like
"give me the doll."
At 12 months of age, babies may understand and
use "mama" and "dada" correctly when referring to their parents. Babies may
recognize their own names or look at family members or pets when you talk about
them. Typically, babies this age understand some familiar words, although they
are still guessing about many other words and their meanings. They may jabber
an incomprehensible stream of sounds with tone and inflection that sound like
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This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 06, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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