4 to 12 months old

Your child’s speech and language development depends on his or her ability to hear. A hearing loss can interrupt or delay the ability to communicate. All children, even newborns and young babies, can have their hearing tested. If you suspect a hearing problem, ask your doctor to refer your child to an audiologist. Seek prompt medical treatment if you suspect your child may have an ear infection.

At age 4 months, your child will...

  • startle to a sudden sound
  • look for the source of new sounds
  • calm down to a soothing out-of-sight voice
  • laugh, gurgle, coo with familiar people
  • use his voice to get attention

By 8 months, your child will...

  • turn his head toward sound
  • widen his eyes to a loud sound
  • enjoy noise toys
  • babble to others
  • frequently use syllables such as "ba," "da," "ka"
  • produce four or more different sounds

By 12 months, your child will...

  • turn quickly to his name
  • use a variety of pitches in the voice
  • listen, bounce or talk with music
  • use jargon that sounds like real sentences
  • play "peek-a-boo"
  • imitate familiar words
  • understand simple instructions
  • recognize words as symbols for objects, i.e., say "meow" for cat, "brum, brum" for car

You can stimulate your infant’s speech and language by...

  • responding to your child’s coos, gurgles and babbling
  • talking to your child as you care for him or her throughout the day
  • reading colorful books to your child every day
  • keeping your speech rather simple and concrete
  • reciting nursery rhymes and singing songs
  • showing interest in all the different sounds you hear (ice clinking in a glass, doorbell ringing, rain falling)
  • teaching your child the names of everyday items and familiar people
  • playing simple games with your child such as peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
  • playing simple music for your child

Provided for you by the Speech & Hearing Board of the Baptist Health Care Foundation and United Way Agency.