Language Development: Birth-12 months


During your baby’s first year, their language development will be somewhat limited. Early on, their main way to communicate is by crying. Babies cry because they need something: milk, a dry diaper, warmth—or they may just be lonely or uncomfortable.

But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect a chatty baby. Most babies are very verbal during their first 12 months, though they won’t start forming words until close to the end of the first year. Here’s what you might expect:

0–3 Months

  • Cooing sounds

3–6 Months

  • Laughing out loud
  • Babbling (making sounds like "bah-bah," "da-da" and "ma-ma-ma")
  • Cooing

6–9 Months

  • Fussing if you take something away from them

9–12 Months

  • Beginning to say some recognizable words, such as "mama," "dada," "ba-ba," "baby" and "bird"

The first five years are critical to children’s development as their brains triple in size during that time. Research has also shown that young children who have genuine and meaningful conversations develop larger vocabularies. All of these factors are strong predictors for their long-term school success. Consider talking through your daily routines and activities with your infant child.

Check out these tools from LAUP to help parents and caregivers encourage strong language development for infants. "Take Time. Talk!" is now available as a PDF in both English and Spanish.

Download "Take Time. Talk" - English

Download "Take Time. Talk" - Spanish

Printed materials are also available as a tool in the classroom as well as individual brochures for families to take home. Contact for more information.