December 29, 2023
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Speech Milestone Charts 0-12 Months (+ Language Development Pro Tips)

Let's look at ASHA's speech-language developmental milestones for babies 0 to 12 months.

Below, I will cover the key growth markers, month by month charts, and some pro tips on how to support your little one along the way!

Recently updated ASHA Milestones included.

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Speech Milestone Charts 0-12 Months (+ Language Development Pro Tips)

UPDATE! ASHA has updated their milestones as of October 2023. This article reflects the new updates. See the video above for further discussion of milestones and specific ways you can help your baby at home.

These speech-language developmental milestones can give you a sort-of "roadmap" to understanding your baby's growth and abilities.

However, every baby progresses at their own pace, so please consider these milestones a flexible framework rather than a strict timeline.

ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) groups these milestones by ages 0-3 months, 4-6 months, 7-9 months, and 10-12 months old.

0-3 Months | Speech Milestone Chart

An updated speech language development milestone chart for babies age 0-3 months. The milestones are listed, and there is a graphic of a parent walking a baby in a stroller and they are looking at and responding to each other

0-3 Month Baby Milestones Explained

  • Alerts to sounds: Your baby might suddenly jerk or appear shocked when there’s a sudden, loud noise in their environment, such as a door slamming or a dog barking.
  • Quiets or smiles when you talk: The sound of your voice can have a calming effect on your baby. When they hear you speak, they may stop crying and smile, showing recognition and comfort in your presence.
  • Makes sounds back and forth with you: This reciprocal exchange is the beginning of having a little "conversation" together. Your baby might coo or babble in response to your talking, demonstrating their first steps in social communication.
  • Makes sounds that differ depending on whether they are happy or upset: Not all cries are the same. Over time, you’ll notice a difference in the way your baby cries, signaling different needs – a hungry cry might be short and rhythmic, while a tired cry could be more whiny or fussy.
  • Coos, makes sounds like ooooo, aahh, and mmmmm: These delightful cooing sounds are more than just cute – they're the building blocks of language. These sounds might be more frequent during happy times, like during a bath or while looking at a favorite toy.
  • Recognizes loved ones and some common objects: Your baby will begin to show signs of recognition towards familiar faces and objects. They may pay more attention to a specific, familiar item such as a bottle or pacifier. 
  • Turns or looks toward voices or people talking: When they hear voices, especially familiar ones, they'll turn their heads or eyes in that direction. This is an important milestone in developing auditory attention and social interaction skills.

Actionable Tips for Babies 0-3 Months


1. Play peek-a-boo to engage with your baby.
This classic game is easy and fun, using only your hands. Added fun can be covering your face or your babies face with a soft cloth, and playfully pulling it off to say, 'boo!'

It helps babies develop object permanence—the understanding that things continue to exist even when they can't see them. Plus, the repetitive nature of peek-a-boo reinforces the predictability of social interactions.
2. Narrate your day to them, even if they don't respond.
You can say, "We're eating breakfast, yum, I like bananas" during mealtime, or "Let's read a book, open the book, I see a cat!" during storytime.

Babies are constantly absorbing information. When you talk about what you're doing or describe objects around them, you're introducing them to new vocabulary and concepts. Even if they don't respond, hearing your voice provides a sense of familiarity and comfort.
3. Mimic their sounds and let them mimic you in return.
If your baby says, "ooooh, ahh" you can repeat that right back to them, "oooh, ahhh, I hear you talking, tell me more" with a lot of expression in your voice.

By echoing your baby's coos and babbles, you're validating their early attempts at communication. This interactive "conversation" fosters a back-and-forth dynamic, laying the groundwork for future dialogues. 

4-6 Months | Speech Milestone Chart

Updated speech language development milestone chart for babies age 4-6 months. The milestones are listed, and there is a graphic of a baby in a crib paying attention to a toy that makes music.

4-6 Month Baby Milestones Explained

  • Giggles and laughs: This is when your baby's sense of humor begins to shine. They might giggle at playful tickles, funny faces, or during a game of peek-a-boo. These laughs are a sign of joy and a developing understanding of playfulness.
  • Responds to facial expressions: Your baby is becoming more attuned to social cues. A smile from you might be met with a beaming grin, or they may mirror your expressions of surprise or happiness, showing an emerging emotional connection.
  • Looks at objects of interest and follows objects with their eyes: Whether it's a colorful mobile or a moving toy, your baby's eyes will track these items, indicating developing visual and cognitive skills. They're learning to coordinate their eye movements with their interest.
  • Reacts to toys that make sounds, like those with bells or music: Musical toys will capture their attention and might result in excited movements or an attempt to reach towards the sound source.
  • Vocalizes during play or with objects in mouth: Your baby might start to make sounds while playing or when they have a toy in their mouth. This babbling can be their way of experimenting with sound, and learning they can hear themselves.
  • Vocalizes different vowel sounds, sometimes combined with a consonant like uuuuuummm, aaaaaaagoo, or daaaaaaaaaa: These early sounds are your baby's exploration of speech patterns. It’s as if they’re having a little conversation in their own language!
  • Blows “raspberries” (making a sound by sticking out the tongue and blowing): Your baby is becoming more aware of their own tongue and lips when they do this fun (and sometimes messy!) new activity, further preparing them for speech sounds.

Actionable Tips for Babies 4-6 Months


1. Use toys that produce sounds or music.
Push button toys, musical stuffed animals, or toys with animal sounds are all great opportunities to experience music at this age.

Engaging music toys captivate your baby's attention and help develop their auditory senses. Observing their reaction to these sounds also aids in tracking their hearing progression.
2. Mimic your baby's noises and speech attempts.
If your baby says, 'mamamama, ahhhh, baba', say the same thing right back to them! - "mamama, ahhh, bababa'.

It will foster social-emotional connection and encrouage your baby to try it again!
3. Sing songs.
'If You're Happy and You Know It', 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' and 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' are great songs to introduce first!

Repetitive rhymes and melodies aid in memory retention. Songs with actions can improve their motor skills and overall comprehension.
4. Experiment with various tones and pitches in your voice.
Say, 'the girl is going down the slide, weeeee!' with rising and falling intonation, or 'they spilled the milk, oh nooooo' with a low tone. Your changes in intonation will demonstrate a wide range of emotion.

Changes in your inflection helps your baby discern variations in sound, preparing them to understand emotional nuances in speech later on. This is especially important during book reading.  

7-9 Months | Speech Milestone Chart

An updated speech language development milestone chart for babies age 9-6 months. The milestones are listed, and there is a graphic of a baby raising her arms to her mom, showing non-verbal communication of needs

7-9 Month Baby Milestones Explained

  • Looks at you when you call their name: This indicates that your baby is beginning to understand and respond to their name. It's a sign of growing auditory recognition and social connection.
  • Stops for a moment when you say, “No": Although understanding the full concept of 'no' takes time, this pause shows they are beginning to grasp basic instructions and tone of voice, which is crucial for their cognitive and social development.
  • Babbles long strings of sounds, like mamamama, upup, or babababa: These extended babbling sessions are your baby's way of practicing speech rhythms and patterns. It’s a foundational step in language development, preparing them for real words.
  • Looks for loved ones when upset: Seeking comfort from familiar people is a sign of emotional and social development. It shows understanding and trust in their caregivers.
  • Raises arms to be picked up: This gesture is an early form of communication. Your baby is learning they can use actions to express their needs and desires, fostering an understanding of non-verbal communication.
  • Recognizes the names of some people and objects: When your baby starts to associate words with people and items, it's a significant leap in language comprehension. They're learning that specific sounds correspond to specific things in their world.
  • Pushes away unwanted objects: This action demonstrates not just a physical response but also a growing awareness of preference and choice. This is an early sign of developing self independence.

Actionable Tips for Babies 7-9 Months


1.  Point to objects and name them during playtime or routines.
During breakfast, you can point to milk and say, "milk, drink milk" or "banana" simply labeling what is around you.

By associating words with objects, you're building their vocabulary organically. It also sharpens their cognitive abilities, linking visual cues with auditory ones.
2. Expand on their babbles interactively.
Simply repeat what they say, "bababa, daaaah, yes I hear you talking!" You can also expand on what they say, "daaaah, dog, BIG dog, BIG dog GO" adding descriptive words or action words, providing models for new, more advanced vocabulary.

As your baby explores a variety of sounds, expanding on your baby's speech attempts is especially important! 
3. Teach animal sounds.
Say, "a cat says meow" or "a cow says moooo". Encourage them to imitate you by saying, "what does a cow say?". Look through books, photos, or talk about real animals you see outside. Most animal sounds are simple sound combinations that your child will be excited to try.

This introduces your child to the concept of animals and the sounds they make. Animal sounds are often easier for young children to imitate, and can be a stepping stone to more complex words.

10-12 Months | Speech Milestone Chart

A speech language development milestone chart for babies age 7-12 months. The milestones are listed, and there is a graphic of a parent playing peek-a-boo with a child.

10-12 Month Baby Milestones Explained

  • By age 10 months, reaches for objects: This action is a form of early non-verbal communication. Your baby is learning to express desires and interests through gestures, an important foundation for future language skills. It's their way of saying, "I want that," before they can use words.
  • Points, waves, and shows or gives objects: These gestures are critical for non-verbal communication. They indicate a desire to engage with others and share experiences, laying the groundwork for social and communicative skills.
  • Imitates and initiates gestures for engaging in social interactions and playing games, like blowing kisses or playing peek-a-boo: These actions demonstrate an understanding of social cues and the joy of interacting with others. Imitating gestures is a sign of observational learning, an essential skill for language development.
  • Tries to copy sounds that you make: Your baby is excited to mimic what you say! It's an important step in the complex process of learning to talk.
  • Enjoys dancing: Dancing to music shows an awareness of rhythm and an ability to respond to auditory stimuli. It also helps in developing motor skills and is an early form of self-expression. And it's the most adorable thing in the world!
  • Responds to simple words and phrases like “Go bye-bye” and “Look at Mommy”: This indicates growing comprehension of language. Understanding and reacting to phrases shows that your baby is not just hearing but processing and responding to language.
  • Says one or two word, like mama, dada, hi, and bye: These 'first words' are meaningful in nature and are usually repeated by your baby in appropriate contexts. They may also have some other 'words' that are not articulated correctly, but they do use appropriately such as 'bah-bah' for bottle. These early words reflect their understanding of the world and the people closest to them.

Actionable Tips for Babies 10-12 Months


1. Encourage gestures alongside speech attempts.
Encouraging your baby to wave while saying 'bye-bye' is a great pairing, or signing 'more' while attempting a verbal 'mmmm' or 'mah' to request more of something.

Combining speech with non-verbal cues offers a holistic, well-rounded approach to communication. It provides your baby with the understanding that gestures can be an effective way to express themselves.
2. Read to your child everyday.
Reading doesn't have to look like actual 'reading' - you can simply point to pictures and name them, discuss what's happening, use playful sounds, and take turns turning the pages. Your child may not sit still for a book, and that's ok, they can move around and still absorb the information.

It supports language acquisition, strengthens social & emotional development. It introduces new vocabulary and concepts as well as early literacy skills.
3. Sing and Dance.
Play music, sing songs, and dance! Rhythm and movement are wonderful ways to connect with your little one.

This isn't ONLY a ton of fun; but it's also multi-sensory learning experience. Singing helps with language acquisition and memory, while the repetitive lyrics help their ability to learn new words and phrases. Dancing together helps in developing motor skills and rhythm recognition.

What If Your Child Is Not On Track?

In my 15 years as a pediatric SLP, I've had this conversation countless times with concerned parents.

When looking through these milestones, keep in mind that there is variability in the development of these skills within each age range. These milestones serve as a guideline, but a lot can change in just a few weeks, especially at birth-12 months.

That being said, if you notice that your child isn't doing at least a few of these things within each category, they may need a little boost. This "boost" can come in the form of you helping them a bit more at home to strengthen certain skills.

Check out the pro tips I provided in this article for simple ways you can help your baby's speech and language at home.

An even stronger "boost" could be reaching out to a speech therapist to begin therapy. I know a lot of parents let time slip by while they are wondering whether or not the child needs help.

Sometimes pediatricians, without ill-intent, suggest 'waiting it out' to parents. However, intervening early can have a huge impact on the child's progress because your child is rapidly developing, soaking in everything around them! 

Give these tips a try for a few weeks and see what you observe.

If you still have concerns after that, you might want to consider a speech- language evaluation.

ASHA Milestone Update Differences

Overall, the recent updates to ASHA's milestones for 0-12 months signal a shift towards a more integrated and holistic approach in early childhood development.

The first obvious change is that they broke the previous age range of 7-12 months in to two separate ranges.

My take is that these changes are representative of broader trends. More and more, we're continuing to acknowledge the overlap between highly variable developmental concepts.

Here are a couple key points I noticed..

Broader Focus

The updated milestones go beyond speech and hearing and now include more social, emotional, and non-verbal communication skills.

Emotional Growth

A lot of newer research highlights the role of emotional and social development within language acquisition. They stress the importance of early social interactions for infants and how that effects their overall developmental trajectory.

Non-Verbal Is Still Communication!

The new milestones talk more about gestures, pointing, and physical responses. I love this because oftentimes people don't naturally think of non-verbal communication as language, but they can be valuable indicators about where a child is in their developmental journey.

Thanks for sticking around until the end! 


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Frequently Asked Questions

Baby Babbling

Is my baby engaging with me enough? How would I know?

It's natural to be concerned! Some babies are more responsive and engage frequently, while others are naturally more observant & quiet, processing information internally.

Remember, your baby typically starts to respond to you in the first 3 months of life. They will startle to sounds and respond to your voice. As they get into the 7 to 12 month range they are turning in the direction of their name being called. Their demeanor becomes more and more interactive as they approach one year. 

An occasional lack of engagement is normal, but if it's frequent and you're feeling concerned, reaching out to a speech therapist to ask more questions is a great next step.

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What comes after babbling in my baby's language development?

Your baby will begin to explore more and more consonant + vowel combinations, and eventually these expressions will turn into meaningful words! 

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My baby isn't babbling yet. Should I be worried?

It's common to be concerned about your baby's speech. Babies typically start babbling between 6 and 9 months.

If your baby isn't exploring their voice by 7 months, it would be best to consult with a speech therapist and learn more.

Your baby’s hearing may be an underlying issue that could go unnoticed at this age. This is something worth ruling out!

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How can I encourage my baby to babble more?

One of the best ways to encourage language development is through interaction. Talk to your baby often, describe your actions, sing songs, and read picture books. Imitate your baby's sounds (babble back to them!) and maintain eye contact.

Your voice and attention not only help language development but also strengthen your bond.

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When should my baby start babbling?

Most babies start babbling between 6 and 9 months. It's an exciting milestone when your baby begins to experiment with sounds, which can include "ba", "da", "ma", and more.

They are learning how to use their vocal cords, lips, and tongue. It's a significant step toward the development of meaningful speech.

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