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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 4 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

  • expresses needs
  • cries
  • when content makes small throaty noises
  • soothed by the sound of voice or by low rhythmic sounds
  • imitates adult tongue movements when being held and talked to
  • may start to copy sounds
  • coos and gurgles

From 4 to 8 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

  • enjoys games such as peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake
  • babbles and repeat sounds
  • makes talking sounds in response to others talking
  • copies sounds
  • smiles and babbles at own image in a mirror
  • responds to own name

From 8 to 12 months

There are two ways infants use language. First, they will listen to sounds that they hear and interpret them in 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

  • responds to own name being called, family names and familiar objects
  • babbles tunefully
  • says words like 'dada' or 'mama'
  • waves goodbye
  • imitates hand clapping
  • imitates actions and sounds
  • enjoys finger-rhymes
  • shouts to attract attention
  • vocalises loudly using most vowels and consonants - sounding like a conversation

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.

Note: Milestones have been updated as of 16th April 2020

Created On January 5, 2015 Last modified on Thursday, April 16, 2020
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