Don’t be surprised if it seems like your baby is making huge leaps forward in the months leading up to the first birthday. While developmentally normal babies are always progressing quickly, the changes in this period are especially obvious. At this age, most children are on the brink of their first real words — usually “mama” or “dada” — and babble in a way that evokes the actual rhythms and cadences of spoken English.

Most important, your 8- to 12-month-old is starting to understand how the world works. For instance, why you’re displeased when he or she overturns the cereal bowl, where that bowl goes when it rolls out of sight, and that you don’t actually disappear when you go to the bathroom. Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t meet all of the developmental milestones listed below, but do consult your pediatrician if your child doesn’t babble or shows little or no interest in people, games or toys.

By 8-12 months, most babies will: 

  • Find (or at least point to) hidden objects
  • Understand that you don’t “disappear” when you leave the room
  • Imitate observed actions (talking on a cell phone, brushing their teeth, “typing” on a computer)
  • Respond to simple verbal requests (“please give me the bottle,” “don’t touch that,” etc.)
  • Wave bye-bye when you leave (or take a toy or book away)
  • Point to objects and people, either of their own accord or when prompted by an adult
  • Play simple games like peek-a-boo or hide and seek
  • Respond appropriately when you say “no”
  • Recognize their own names
  • Babble in a way that resembles actual speech
  • Play “back-and-forth” games, like rolling a ball or a toy car
  • Crave repetition of songs, games and stories
  • Be fascinated by toys that move or make sounds

By 8-12 months, some babies may: 

  • Shake their heads for “no” and nod for “yes”
  • Say  “uh-oh!” or “oh no!” when they’re in trouble

By 8-12 months, a few babies may even: 

  • Point, or crawl to, an object when you say its name
  • Say “mama” or “dada”

More in milestones:

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, December 2018


  • 8- to 12-month-old babies are on the brink of saying their first words.
  • Babies this age babble in a way reminiscent of speech.
  • Most kids this age can recognize their own names.


  1. Mayo Clinic. Infant Development: Milestones from 10-12 Months.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Important Milestones: Your Baby at Nine Months.
  3. Medline Plus. Developmental Milestones Record – 9 Months.


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