American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
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Birth to One Year

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How Does Your Child Hear and Talk? | One to Two Years | Two to Three Years |
Three to Four Years | Four to Five Years | Learning Two Languages |
What should I do if I think my child has a problem?

What should my child be able to do?

Hearing and Understanding Talking

Birth–3 Months

  • Startles to loud sounds
  • Quiets or smiles when spoken to
  • Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying
  • Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound

Birth–3 Months

  • Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)
  • Cries differently for different needs
  • Smiles when sees you

4–6 Months

  • Moves eyes in direction of sounds
  • Responds to changes in tone of your voice
  • Notices toys that make sounds
  • Pays attention to music

4–6 Months

  • Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m
  • Chuckles and laughs
  • Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
  • Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with you

7 Months–1 Year

  • Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
  • Turns and looks in direction of sounds
  • Listens when spoken to
  • Recognizes words for common items like "cup", "shoe", "book", or "juice"
  • Begins to respond to requests (e.g. "Come here" or "Want more?")

7 Months–1 Year

  • Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as "tata upup bibibibi"
  • Uses speech or noncrying sounds to get and keep attention
  • Uses gestures to communicate (waving, holding arms to be picked up)
  • Imitates different speech sounds
  • Has one or two words (hi, dog, dada, mama) around first birthday, although sounds may not be clear

What can I do to help?

  • Check your child's ability to hear, and pay attention to ear problems and infections, especially when they keep occurring.
  • Reinforce your baby's communication attempts by looking at him or her, speaking, and imitating his or her vocalizations.
  • Repeat his or her laughter and facial expressions.
  • Teach your baby to imitate actions, such as peekaboo, clapping, blowing kisses, pat-a-cake, itsy bitsy spider, and waving bye-bye. These games teach turn taking that is needed for conversation.
  • Talk while you are doing things, such as dressing, bathing, and feeding (e.g., "Mommy is washing Sam's hair"; "Sam is eating carrots"; "Oh, these carrots are good!").
  • Talk about where you are going, what you will do once you get there, and who and what you'll see (e.g., "Sam is going to Grandma's house. Grandma has a dog. Sam will pet the dog.").
  • Teach animal sounds (e.g., "A cow says 'moo'").
  • Communicate with your child in the language you are most comfortable using.

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