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Developmental Milestones – Birth to One Year
By Natalie J. Dahl, M.S., CCC-SLP
Many people think that communication begins when a child says his or her first words. But in a child’s first year of life, there are so many things that happen to prepare a child to communicate with others. These skills can be developed by actively engaging with people and environments. This occurs when a child is touched, spoken to, and shown pictures, objects, places, and people.
The following lists show behaviors that a child will probably exhibit throughout his or her first year of life. Every child is unique, and these lists should be used as a general guide. If a child is not meeting the developmental milestones listed below, it is recommended to consult a speech-language pathologist to determine further action.
Birth to Three Months
  • Startles to loud, sudden sounds by crying or jerking body
  • Reacts to familiar objects, like a bottle or parents
  • Recognizes caregiver’s voice and quiets if crying
  • Has different cries for different needs (e.g. pain versus hunger)
  • Makes cooing sounds with changes in intonation
  • Watches objects intently
  • Smiles at people
Three to Six Months
  • Babbles and coos when alone and with others
  • When babbling, uses consonant-vowel syllable (e.g. ba, pa, mi) and changes in intonation to sound speech-like
  • Laughs, giggles, and shows pleasure
  • Makes sounds when upset
  • Moves eyes and/or turns head in direction of sounds
  • Reacts when name is spoken
  • Responds to changes in tone of caregiver’s voice
  • Attends to music
  • Voice is louder for babbling and crying than before
  • Notices toys that make sounds
  • Shows delight when bottle or breast is presented
Six to Nine Months
  • Begins to understand and respond to simple words like “no” and phrases like “come here” and “want more?”
  • Looks at family members when they are named and looks when caregiver points
  • Babbles with rhythmic pattern; two or more syllables are often strung together to sound like words, like “mama,” although meaning is not typically understood yet
  • Plays games like “pat-a-cake,” “bye-bye,” and “peek-a-boo”
  • Shakes head to show “no”
  • Uses sounds and gestures to get others’ attention
Nine to Twelve Months
  • Enjoys imitating simple sounds
  • Understands words for common items and people, like “cup,” “milk,” “daddy,” “ball;” understands that words represent objects
  • Jabbers loudly and will try to “talk” to others with intent
  • Listens to stories and/or songs for a short time
  • Imitates animal sounds
  • Says one or two words, like “hi,” “uh-oh,” “mama,” “dada,” “dog”
  • Immediately turns and looks directly at source of sounds
Hamaguchi, Patricia McAleer. 2010. Childhood Speech, Language & Listening Problems – 3rd Edition. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
“What should my child be able to do?” accessed June 7, 2019,
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