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Baby Talk: Infant & Toddler Speech Milestones

Update, February 14, 2022 – As of February 8th, the CDC and AAP have expanded infant, toddler and early childhood development milestones. See the new guidance here.

Infant speech milestones and communication progress varies from child to child, but there are general guidelines parents can use to gauge their own baby’s development. In this blog, Baby Talk: Infant & Toddler Speech Milestones, parents can find a quick guide of communication milestones for babies age newborn to 18 months old.

Baby Talk: Infant & Toddler Speech Milestones

As always, you know your child best so if you ever feel that baby isn’t reaching their milestones on time or that there’s something wrong, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician. For a full breakdown of milestones, this chart from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is very helpful! 

Birth to 5 Months Old

Cooing, vocal sighs and vowel sounds such as “ahhh”

Laughter, crying (obviously!) and fussing sounds

6 -11 Months Old

Begins gesturing or using actions to try to communicate

Babbles without meaning (to us, not to baby!) and attempts to say mama and dada

12- 17 months Old

Understands how to label objects and people. Mom is actually “Mama” or Dad is actually “Dada”

Repeats simple words

Has a vocabulary of 4-6 words 

Can respond non verbally

By 18 Months Old

Is adding more sounds, like animal sounds, to their repertoire

Is adding more vocabulary words 

Pointing and gesturing, is able to communicate answers to simple questions like “Are you hungry?”

Again, there is a wide range of typical behavior in babies and toddlers. For example, sometimes newborns with older siblings reach milestones later than their peers because the older kids “speak” for their younger sibling. In other cases the child may start communicating earlier than expected because they are exposed to older family members or peers modeling speech to them all day!  And of course twins and higher order multiples may even develop their own language which becomes part of their everyday communication.

Either way we hope this info is helpful and if you have more questions, you can visit our Parent Resource Center for evidence-based support.

speech milestones for infants and toddlers