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Language Development for Infants 0-12 months

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Language not only refers to the spoken word but it also incorporates gesturing, facial expressions and verbal sounds. This is why language development for infants begins from when your baby is born. Infants are aware of sounds in the environment. They listen intently to other's speaking and begin to cry if they hear an unexpected noise. This is all part of your infant's language development.

Language Development Milestones

From 0 to 3 months

Infants respond differently depending on their environment. From when infants are only a couple of weeks old they will begin to have a distinct cry for different needs and become startled at loud noises. This is their only way of communicating. Within a couple of months a smile appears. Different sounds such as cooing and gurgling begin to emerge as your infant begins verbalising in response to you “talking” to them.

Milestones Achieved

  • smiles at the sound of a familiar voice
  • cooing noises; vocal play
  • attends to sound
  • gets startled at loud noises
  • expresses needs
  • cries to express how they feel
  • when content makes small throaty noises
  • soothed by sound of mother’s voice or by low rhythmic sounds
  • enjoys listening to music
  • sounds “aah” and “gnah” begin
  • sticks out tongue and moves lips while being spoken to
  • starts laughing
  • shows interest in familiar faces
  • imitates adult tongue movements when being held and talked to
  • may start to copy sounds and coos and gurgles

From 3 to 6 months

During this period, older infants pass from “cooing” to beginning to “babble”. Infants become more active in conversations and will give the impression of wanting to join in the discussion. They will also show interest in their surroundings, look at toys and observe others.

Milestones Achieved

  • uses vocal sounds to express likes and dislikes
  • moves eyes to direction of sound
  • makes gurgling noises while playing
  • babbles repetitive sounds such as “pa”, “ba”.
  • responds to changes in tone of voice.
  • distinguishes emotions by tone of voice
  • responds to sound by making sounds
  • uses voice to express joy and displeasure
  • syllable repetition begins
  • makes talking sounds in response to others talking
  • copies sounds
  • smiles and babbles at own image in mirror
  • responds to own name
  • recognizes familiar voices
  • makes a wider range of sounds
  • makes noises to get attention

From 6 to 12 months

There are two ways infants use language. First they will listen to sounds that they hear and interpret them into their own way. This is known as receptive language. Secondly infants will use their expressive skills, which enable them to make sounds of their own, so they can communicate with you. Most commonly an infant’s receptive language will be more advanced than expressive language.

Milestones Achieved

  • begin to follow one step commands
  • listens attentively
  • smiles back at others
  • looks at speaker while they are talking
  • starts understanding “bye” and “up”
  • laughs and squeals with delight
  • screams if annoyed
  • says first word “dada” and “mama”
  • responds to own name being called, family names and familiar objects
  • babbles tunefully
  • waves goodbye
  • imitates hand clapping
  • copies actions and sounds
  • enjoys finger plays and rhymes
  • vocalises loudly using most vowels and consonants

Infants begin to pay attention to others and become interested in what is happening around them. While communicating infant’s sounds have a pattern to them. They begin to use the same sound combination regularly and even while in the same situation. This is a sign that an infant is using language in a purposeful way and is communicating.

Last modified on Monday, January 5, 2015
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