Your baby’s first year of life is an exciting time of significant speech and language development, both in what your child understands and expresses. Even though most babies are not yet talking, their “pre-” speech and language skills are blossoming in amazing ways. Here are some of the major speech and language milestones your baby will likely experience over the first year.

Birth–3 months


  • “Goos” and “coos” to indicate pleasure
  • Uses different cries to express different needs
  • Smiles upon seeing caregiver


  • Startles upon hearing loud noises
  • Smiles or quiets when spoken to
  • Recognizes caregiver’s voice and will stop crying when voice is heard
  • When sounds are heard, decreases or increases sucking 

4–6 Months


  • Babbles using many different sounds such as p, b, m
  • Laughs and giggles
  • Indicates excitement and displeasure through vocalizations
  • Gurgles during play


  • Shifts eyes to direction of a sound
  • Recognizes when caregiver changes tone of voice
  • Realizes that certain toys make noise
  • Listens attentively to music 

7–12 Months


  • Babbles short and long strings of sounds (e.g. “baba atat mimimimi”)
  • Gains attention by using speech sounds
  • Communicates using gestures such as waving or lifting arms up to be held
  • Imitates a variety of sounds
  • Produces first word or two by first birthday


  • Likes to play games such as pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo
  • Turns body or head toward direction of sounds
  • Listens when being spoken to
  • Recognizes common objects when named, such as “book,” “cup,” or “shoe”
  • Starts responding to simple directions (“Sit down”) or requests (“Want more?”)

Keep in mind that as with all milestones, these are general guidelines for typical development.  All children are unique and develop speech and language in their own way.  However, if your child is consistently not meeting speech and language milestones and you are concerned, it’s best to act fast and talk to your pediatrician.

More in milestones:

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, December 2018


  • From birth to 3 months of age, your baby can use different cries to express different needs.
  • At around 4 months of age, your baby will be able to recognize a caregiver’s tone of voice has changed.
  • By your baby’s first birthday, they should be able to produce their first word or two.
  • Milestones are general guidelines and should be taken as absolute.


  1. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Speech Development


Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.

Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.