Communication Begins at Birth: 9 – 12 Months

These months can be a cornerstone period for your baby’s communication development. During this period, your baby might say “mama” or “dada” for the first time, and will mostly communicate using body language, like pointing and shaking his or her head. Your baby will pay even more attention to words and gestures and will try to imitate you and various sounds from his or her environment.

Listed below are some typical milestones, enhancement activities, and red flags for your baby’s hearing and speech development at this age. Note that every child is different, and some reach these milestones sooner or later than others. If your child is not developing in accordance with these guidelines, consider contacting your pediatrician or family health physician. 

Typical Development:

  • Continues to point his/her finger to communicate desires
  • Uses jargon that sounds like speech
  • Can clearly say 1-2 words (ex: mama, dada, uh oh, bye)
  • Imitates sounds such as animals, cars, and trains
  • Looks at or points to familiar objects or pictures when they are named 
  • Responds to his/her own name, phone ringing or someone’s voice, even when not loud


  • Point to pictures to identify people, objects and toys
  • Talk to your baby throughout the day. Mix in adult tones of speech, not just baby talk
  • Identify and imitate environmental sounds such as birds and planes

Red Flags:

  • Uses few or no speech sounds 
  • Does not use gestures to communicate: waving, high fives
  • Does not show understanding of any words

There are many activities that parents can do to ensure that their baby is getting the information he or she needs for proper development of speech and hearing. Though your baby may only be saying a few words, naming familiar objects will help your baby learn what they are called and store this information before they can use words.  Labeling objects during the course of the day reinforces the message that everything has its own name. Make learning a whole-body experience: Touch your baby’s toe when you say the word “toe.” Or point out your own ear and say, “Mommy’s ear.” Face your baby when you speak to let him or her see your facial expression and lip movements. Children’s of Alabama Hearing and Speech Center: 

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