Learning to Speak

The Stages of Speech Development

0-3 months

By 3 months of age, your baby will be startled at loud noises, and turn to your direction when you talk to them. They will also be able to make 'ah' noises, and grunt and gurgle.

4-6 months

By 6 months your baby will be making cooing noises, and will be able to respond to you by making noises back at you when you speak to them. Your baby will enjoy having 'conversations' with you! Your baby will also be able to make certain noises to get your attention, and have certain cries for different things, such as when she's hungry and when she wants to be picked up. Your baby will also probably join in when people around her laugh and smile.

6-12 months

When babies reach 9 months, they can start stringing sounds together, such as mama, dada, no-no, ba-ba. They don't necessarily connect these sounds to meaning, but they are trying to form words and are imitating what they hear. By 12 months, most babies can recognise the sound of familiar things, such as 'mummy' and 'teddy', and point to them when asked. They can recognise the sound of their own name, and can understand simple words when used with gestures, such as clap, bye bye, up and down, wave. They will probably enjoy trying to sing along with you or try and sing along to songs they hear on the radio.

12-18 months

Between 12-18 months babies become much more sociable, and take an active interest in wanting to speak. They can point to familiar objects when asked, such as 'bus' or 'cup'. By 18 months, babies can usually say up to 20 words. Their pronunciation isn't the same as adults, and often only mummy, daddy and childcare providers can understand these early words! Your baby will be able to shake and nod their head for yes and no, and will understand simple questions such as 'where is your teddy?', or 'give me the spoon'. They can understand simple instructions such as 'throw the ball', or 'give daddy a cuddle!'.

18-24 months

Your child will start to say simple sentences, usually only of 2 or 3 words, such as 'more juice', or 'daddy back', 'me do it'. They can understand most of what you say to them, (understanding between 200-500 words) and can understand and respond to commands such as 'put your train in the box', and 'let's get your shoes on'. They will be able to say about 50 words. Your baby will say certain letters more easily than others, such as words starting with b, p, t, d and m.

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