Babies, Milestones, Raising Kids, Speech/Language Development

Speech and Language Milestones Summary: Birth- 1 year old.

Photo Credit- Chayene Rafaela

Blogmas, Day 6! As a speech-language pathologist, I have had the pleasure and honor to study and practice in a variety of settings, with my primary setting being the educational system. I enjoy working with young students, and helping to foster their speech and language development. It’s amazing to see the growth of many of the students, as I have served in the same district for over 10 years. As with any career, there are ups and downs, but today, I want to focus on a few speech and language milestones. It is my hope to spread information that may help others. I find myself often wondering, “How did this child get to this age, without any intervention?” While I understand that there are MANY reasons why a child may enter elementary school without speech and language intervention, I believe that one of the primary reasons is lack of resources and information. Some parents just don’t know what may be available for their children, there may be a shortage of providers, or maybe lack of funding/insurance to cover the services. In an effort to try and reach parents who have children, I want to share these milestones. Granted, children learn and grow at different paces, so these milestones shouldn’t be taken so rigidly that parents panic if their child isn’t matching up entirely. I’m going to use a summary from Caroline Bowen, a name I heard often during my studies.

Language is primarily broken up into receptive language (how well you understand language) and expressive language (how well you can use language to communicate with others). Along with the milestones, I will mention some of the ways that my children exhibited these skills, as best as I can remember (marked with an asterisk*). My youngest is now 18 months old.


Receptive-Babies begin to listen to sounds within the womb. They recognize familiar voices at birth, and continue to do so until their vision improves. They may startle and cry with unexpected noise, and may quiet down with new sounds.

Expressive– Newborns make sounds to communicate pleasure and pain. *We all know that babies cry when they are upset (various reasons). They also make other noises when they are happy/content. Baby girl was the only one of my kids who hollered for a long time immediately after birth. I had to sing to her to get her to calm down!


Receptive– Babies learn to turn to you when you speak, and smile when they hear your voice. They recognize familiar voices and are calmed by familiar or comforting voices. *When my babies were newborns, they would immediately turn their heads towards the sound of my voice. It was the cutest thing, but also kind of crazy. I could be in another part of the room, talking with someone, and they would turn to try and locate me. If I was trying to get a break from nursing, I knew to stay out of their radar zone for their noses and ears. LOL

Expressive– Babies will smile at you; repeat the same sounds and coo with contentment. They may have different cries for different needs, and you may be able to tell the difference. *I knew when my kids wanted to nurse, vs. when they were in pain. They learned very early how to get my attention.


Receptive– babies become more and more interested in various sounds. They enjoy music and rhythm, toys that make sounds and show interest in new sounds as the experience them. They also start to recognize different tones of voice. *This is the point where it seemed like my kids’ personalities began to show. They were very curious about the world around them, grabbing everything they could. They would bob their head to music as well.

Expressive– gurgling and vocal play become normal. They may make various sounds while playing. They may begin to babble with speech-like sounds, typically repeating bilabial (two lip) sounds such as /p, b, w, and m/. They can communicate that they want something through sounds and gestures. *Lots of spitting and gurgling at this point. LOL


Receptive– The baby listens while being spoken to, turns when his/her name is called, and enjoys finger-play games like “peek a boo” and “pat-a-cake.” They may recognize the names of familiar people and objects such as their parents (mama and dada or ball), and may even begin to respond to requests (Want more juice?). *Baby girl responded to interactions from others by smiling and cooing. She enjoyed playing with new toys, especially if they make sounds. She clapped her hands to songs, and understood when I told her to “clap” without me having to model it for her. She would wrestle and play with her older brothers, imitating things that they did. She loved pat-a-cake and often did the motions on her own.

Expressive– Your baby’s sounds quickly begin to evolve into more consonant sounds and vowel sounds. They know how to gain your attention and keep it by using other sounds than crying. First words may appear during this time, even if it’s not very clear (Mama, Dada, Bye bye, No). *Baby girl started crawling during this time. She was babbling nonstop, particularly “dadadadadada.” She would kick repeatedly when she wanted me to wake up at night for nursing.

Stay tuned for more milestones. I hope this information helps someone. Feel free to comment below with any questions that you may have. I also want to mention that I worked for a program called Babies Can’t Wait for a period of time. It provides interventions for children between the ages of Birth- 3 years old. It’s goal is to provide early intervention to children in all developmental areas. If you have concerns about your child’s development, please do not hesitate to ask your pediatrician, or even your daycare provider about possible resources.

Bowen, C. (1998). Ages and Stages Summary: Language Development 0-5 years. Retrieved from on [12/9/2020].

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