During these months, your baby might say "mama" or
"dada" for the first time, and will communicate using
body language, like nodding and shaking his or her head. Your baby
will pay even more attention to your words and will try very hard
to imitate you - so be careful what you say!
How Babies Communicate
Babies this age test their verbal skills as they prepare for
their big speaking debut. They make more and more recognizable
sounds, such as "ga," "ba," and "da."
They may even stumble onto a real word like "mama," and
will be thrilled at mom and dad's excitement.
Babies begin to express likes and dislikes with body language,
nodding in agreement or wrinkling their nose with displeasure.
They'll also begin to communicate what they want by
pointing, crawling, and gesturing.
You'll know that your baby understands what you say when you
ask: "Where's Daddy?" and your little one looks
his way, or you say: "Go find the blue ball," and he or
she crawls right to it. Your baby should respond well to his or
her own name, and should look up (and at least pause) when you
firmly say, "NO!"
By the end of the first year, your baby should be responding
well to simple requests from you ("Wave bye-bye") and
should be making some valiant babbling attempts at real
What Should I Do?
Continue talking to your baby using names as well as repetitive
word games, like "This little piggy." Point to a ball and
ask "What's that?" and pause before you provide the
answer. Soon your baby will be pointing and saying "bah?"
as though asking a question.
Labeling simple objects during the course of the day reinforces
the message that everything has its own name. From milk in the
morning to a teddy bear at night, your little one is learning
what familiar objects are called and storing this information away,
just waiting for the day when he or she can form the right
Make learning a whole-body experience: Touch your baby's toe
when you say the word "toe." Or point out your own ear
and say, "Mommy's (or Daddy's) ear." Face your
baby when you speak to let him or her see your facial expression
and lip movements.
Be musical and sing to your baby to encourage language learning.
By listening to the words, babies learn to recognize and repeat
them. Throw in hand gestures and vary the style and tempo of the
music to keep your baby's attention. Babies also respond to
rhymes, which show how playful language can be.
Read to your baby from large, colorful picture books, and
encourage him or her to turn the pages. Give your baby a chance to
"read" and "answer" your questions.
If You're Concerned
Some children master motor skills earlier and easier than
language skills. Very active kids may decide to concentrate on
language after they've mastered walking. Both activities are
not likely to happen at the same time.
If your baby seems to be a late talker, this isn't
necessarily a cause for concern, although kids should say at least
one word by 12-15 months of age. Your baby should also learn to use
gestures such as waving and should point to objects or
If your baby doesn't seem to be able to respond to the sound
of his or her name being called or doesn't look around at loud
noises, talk to your doctor.
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2008
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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