By Raising Children Network
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Photo of Baby on mother's lap
Between the ages of three months and one year, there’s a lot happening with baby language development. You can expect your child to coo and laugh, play with sounds, babble and begin to communicate with gestures.

About baby language development

Your baby’s communication skills grow dramatically in her first year of life. Here are some things your child might do.

Expressing: baby language development

As part of his language development in the first year, your baby will express himself in many ways. For example, he might:

  • make eye contact with you
  • say ‘ah goo’ or another combination of vowels and consonants at around three months
  • babble and combine vowels and consonants, such as ‘ga ga ga ga’, ‘ba ba ba ba’, ‘ma ma ma ma’, ‘da da da da’, at around four months
  • copy some of the sounds and gestures you make, like coughing, laughing, clicking or making ‘raspberries’
  • play with making different sounds – for example, ‘aaieee’, ‘booo’, ‘ahh’ at varying (sometimes earsplitting!) pitches and volumes
  • make longer sequences of sounds at around eight months, which might sound like normal speech – this is sometimes called the ‘jargon phase’ and might continue when first words begin
  • say ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ around nine months, although he might not know what these mean yet
  • communicate with purpose, mainly to request, insist, refuse, reject or greet someone
  • ask for something by pointing, or by looking at a person then at something he wants
  • say a few words with a clear meaning, such as ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ to refer to mum or dad, at around 12-14 months.

Responding: baby language development

In these months, your baby will respond to you in many ways. For example, she might:

  • make sounds or go quiet when you talk with her or say her name
  • coo and laugh – for example, while you’re changing her nappy
  • smile and laugh when you play with her
  • enjoy games such as peekaboo and other action games
  • use gestures like waving or pointing.

Understanding: baby language development

It’s amazing how much your baby understands already – he’s listening and learning all the time, as he makes sense of his world.

For example, in these months, you might find that your baby understands:  

  • the word ‘no’ (but she still won’t always do as you say!), at around 10 months
  • very simple instructions with verbal and visual cues – for example, at around 12 months, when you hold your hand out and say ‘ta’, she’ll give you the toy she’s holding.
Children grow and develop at different rates. The information in this article is offered as a guide only. If you’re at all concerned about your child’s language development, speak with your GP or child and family health nurse.
  • Last updated or reviewed 20-03-2015