Track your baby’s milestones — Speech and Language

In the first three years of junior’s life, she’ll actively pick up speech and language skills. Here’s what to expect!


0 to 6 months

- Your newborn will acquire language skills through sounds, what she sees and when she is exposed to other people’s conversations. To boost her attempts to communicate, make sure to look at her, sing nursery rhymes, speak to her often and imitate the sounds she makes.

- During this period, she’s able to distinguish different sounds, so she’ll calm down or smile when she hears your voice. She will also use different crying sounds for various needs.

- From around a month old, she’ll start responding to voices or sounds. She’ll turn her head towards a sound’s source, or watch a speaker’s face intently when she’s spoken to.

- From around 3 months, your tot will start to gurgle, babble in a speech-like manner, and make sounds, especially those starting with p, b, and m. This means she’s either responding to you or expressing excitement.

- She’ll also start playing with her voice and mouth by experimenting with sounds like squealing, growling, and yelling.

- Play games with her. Teach her to imitate your actions, like blowing kisses or playing peekaboo. Also talk her through daily activities such as, “Mummy is going to massage baby now”.


6 to 12 months

- Your sweetie can make out the different speech sounds by this stage, which means that she can recognise and understand the basic sounds of her native language.

- Instead of bawling to get your attention, your baby will try to communicate verbally with you. She also knows what common items like “shoe” or “juice” are.

Your sweetie can make out the different speech sounds by this stage, which means that she can recognise and understand the basic sounds of her native language.

- At around 7 months, while she’ll try to imitate different speech sounds, she would prefer using words like “ba” or “ma” as they’re easier to pronounce. Her first words might very well be “mum mum” or “da da”.

- By her first birthday, she should be using one or two words, such as “hi”, “dog” or “mama” – although they might not sound clear.

- When she tries to say a word, such as “boo” for book, repeat the word back to her correctly, saying, "Yes, that's a book." She will start saying it correctly as she gets older.

Your little one is making strides in her speech as she turns 1. Read on!


12 to 18 months

- By now your mini-me understands simple instructions like “eat your food” or “bring your ball”. To boost her speech and help her make connections between actions and objects, verbalise everyday activities such as “mummy is moving the chair, so you can play”.

- At around 15 months, she’ll probably raise her voice at the end of a question, and may use hand gestures ― like pointing or waving ― to complete a sentence, or emphasise a point.

- Most kids this age are able to say 20 words, and will keep on picking up new words as the weeks go by.

- Simplify your speech when you talk to your little learner. Use short sentences and stress key words ― you’ll be helping her identify the main message, such as “please pick up your toy”.

She’ll probably raise her voice at the end of a question, and may use hand gestures to complete a sentence, or emphasise a point.

- She’s a little mimic these days, so watch her pick up on your expressive tone, too – she might say “ouch!” when she trips and falls, or “uh oh!” when she knocks over her blocks.


18+ months

- At 18 months, words like “I”, “he” and “she” will confuse her because she’s still too young to understand what these pronouns mean. So, you’ll often hear her say “baby hungry”, instead of “I’m hungry”. The good news is she’ll start to form sentences that make sense.

- This is also the time your toddler will bombard you with questions like “where”, “how”, “why”, even though you just told her where daddy is. Although this may test your patience, it’s her way of satisfying her curiosity and understanding the world around her.

- Your toddler’s vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds now. By 2, she may be using 50 or more single words, and this number will grow to 300 by age 3.

- She’s now able to form complete although simple sentences, such as “Where is the ball?”

- Between ages 2 and 3, your chatterbox will have a word for almost everything. You’ll notice she uses d, k, g, f, t, and n sounds more often than any other to communicate. Her speech may only be understood by familiar listeners, but don’t worry, children learn various things at different stages.

Photos: iStock

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