Language development: Speech milestones for babies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A baby's first words are music to a parent's ears. But how can you tell if your child's speech and language development is on track?

While every child learns to speak at his or her own pace, general milestones can serve as a guide to normal speech and language development — and help doctors and other health professionals determine when a child might need extra help.

By the end of 3 months

By the end of three months, your child might:

  • Smile when you appear
  • Startle upon hearing loud sounds
  • Make "cooing" sounds
  • Quiet or smile when spoken to
  • Seem to recognize your voice
  • Cry differently for different needs

By the end of 6 months

By the end of six months, your child might:

  • Make gurgling sounds when playing with you or left alone
  • Babble and make a variety of sounds
  • Use his or her voice to express pleasure and displeasure
  • Move his or her eyes in the direction of sounds
  • Respond to changes in the tone of your voice
  • Notice that some toys make sounds
  • Pay attention to music

By the end of 12 months

By the end of 12 months, your child might:

  • Try imitating words
  • Say a few words, such as "dada," "mama" and "uh-oh"
  • Understand simple instructions, such as "Come here"
  • Recognize words for common items, such as shoe
  • Turn and look in the direction of sounds
  • Respond to "no"
Mar. 09, 2013 See more In-depth