This is a question I often hear as a Speech Language Pathologist. My answer is, “babies usually start using words around a year, but every child is different and there is a wide range of what is typical. There are many other ways in which babies communicate before they learn to talk.”
What truly fascinates me as a mom and an SLP, is the communication development that takes place from birth on (and even before birth).
Merriam Webster defines “communication” as:
“The act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.”
Communication in the early stages might be your 6 week old smiling at you sweetly or your 6 month old’s belly laugh in response to a game of peek-a-boo. Long before words emerge, communication exists in the form of crying, cooing, smiling, eye-contact, laughing, body language, babbling and more.
Words are of course a very important part of communication, but communication is multifaceted and entails so much more. Words are not the only way we express our message and it is important to consider this when thinking about how to best support our child’s speech and language development.
We have developed the Milestones page on our site to provide you with information on your little one’s communication development, reading milestones, and possible signs of communication delays for each phase of development from Birth-5. Remember that there is a wide range of development and every child is unique and special in their own way. If you have concerns, consult with your pediatrician.
Here is a sample of the first phase of development from our Milestones page and a FREE Newborn Communication Tracker printable. We call infants in the first three months, “Cute Cooers” because it is in this time range that many babies start to “coo,” which is pretty cute!
Cute Cooers (Birth-3 months) Communication Milestones:
- Coo/goo sounds emerge (between 2-3 months)
- Makes a variety of noises: Cries, coughs, sneezes, burps, breathing noises, snorts
- Smile starts as a reflex, social smile appears (between 6-8 weeks)
- Startles to loud noises
- Recognizes familiar voices
- Looks at speaker
- Imitates some facial expressions (like sticking out tongue)
- Smiles or calms when spoken to or sung to
- Possible Signs of Delay:
- Not smiling or interacting with others
- Lack of attention to sounds
What was the cutest way that your baby communicated with you in the first year? Share in the comments below!