Language Development — 8-12 months

Toward the end of the first year, your child will begin to communicate wants by pointing, crawling, or gesturing toward a target. Your child will also imitate many of the gestures she sees you make as you talk. This nonverbal communication is only a temporary measure, however, while your child learns how to phrase messages with words.

8-10 months:

Articulates sounds– Around 8-10 months of age your child will begin using recognizable syllables, such as “ba,” ”da,” “ga,” and “ma.” She may even stumble on words such as “mama, dada, and bye-bye” quite accidentally, not yet with meaning. Let your child see your excitement and encourage her by saying words with her daily.
Understanding– At this age your child is beginning to understand more language and pays increasing attention to others’ speech. Conversations will take on new significance. For example, your child will begin to respond to “no” and will begin using simple gestures, such as shaking her head for “no.”

10-12 months:

More vocal– Between 10 and 12 months, your child will repeat more sounds as she hears them and will try to imitate words. She may use exclamations such as “oh oh” and will likely begin to say “no no”. The best news? Your child may begin to say mama or dada with meaning.
More understanding– As your child gains understanding of the meaning behind words, she will also begin to recognize and respond to her own name. She will also begin to respond to simple instructions such as “wave bye-bye”, “blow kisses” etc. Watch how she responds when you mention a favorite toy across the room. When she looks toward it, she is telling you she understands.

  • Keep the words flowing, talk to her, and consistently share with her what is happening: “it is time for your bottle, let’s get a clean diaper.
  • Label familiar toys. Be as consistent as possible in your naming—that is, if you label a stuffed animal “at” today, be sure to call it “cat” tomorrow, and not kitty.
  • Make your language simple and specific: “I am going to dry your hands with this soft pink towel.”
  • READ – a child is never too young. Aah the glory of books, picture books, touch and feel, vinyl books she can turn. Simple but colorful illustrations of things she will recognize.
  • Identify items to her – wherever you are , whatever you are doing.

Whether you are reading or talking, give your child plenty of opportunities to join in. Ask questions and wait for a response – it might come in the form of a smile, a finger pointing, or a “gaga gaga”. Whatever the response, repeat it back and see what she does. These exchanges may seem trivial, but they tell her that communication is two-way and that she is a welcome participant. As long as your child is experimenting with sounds that vary in intensity, pitch, and quality, she is getting ready to talk. The more you respond to her as if she were speaking, the more you will stimulate her urge to communicate.

What a wonderful gift you are giving your child. Keep the language going. Children are “sponges” and they await the world of communicating and keeping it “Fun to Flourish.”