First Sounds and First Words | What to Expect from Your Baby

Talking. Some of us don’t like to do it and some of us do it too much. But one of the most exciting things for parents is to witness their child’s first words. Babies learn to talk throughout their first two years of life and believe it or not, there are speech and language milestones that are achieved in the first few months of life. Here is a general outline of the speech and language milestones your child should be achieving from birth to 2 years.

Speech and Language Milestones from Birth to 2 Years:

Birth to 3 months

• Variety of cries to indicate needs – hungry, in need of a diaper change, or upset
• Coos, sighs, gurgles, and makes pleasure sounds
• Recognizes voices
• Localizes to sound by turning head

4 to 6 months

• Uses /p/, /b/, and /m/ to babble
• Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
• Listens to and imitates some sounds
• Responds to changes in your voice

7-12 months

• Babbles using long and short groups of sounds
• Uses a song-like intonation pattern when babbling
• Babbling has both long and  short groups of sounds such as “bababa upup tata”
• Has 1 or two words, though they may not be clear
• Uses communicative gestures such as pointing, pulling, and waving

12-18 months

• Uses nouns almost exclusively
• Uses jargon to fill gaps in fluency
• Combines gestures and vocalization
• Says more words each month, by 18 months child has a vocabulary of approximately 20 words

18 to 24 months

• Uses many different consonant sounds at beginning of words
• Expressive vocabulary of 25-50 words
• Imitates many words
• Uses some 1-2 word questions – “What’s that?” “Mommy?”
• Puts two words together – “more cookie” “no book”
• Language explosion typically occurs around 18-24 months; vocabulary grows to 150-300 words by 24 months

Further Reading

For more on Speech and Language Milestones: Birth to Age 1, click here.
For more on Speech and Language Milestones: Ages 1-2, click here.