Quickly Tune in to Your Child’s Developing Language and Communication Skills


Your baby is here and ready to communicate with you.

Your child’s ability to communicate and engage with you and the world around him changes dramatically during the first three years. He moves from gurgles, and babbles to inviting imaginary friends over for dinner. In those first three years, the foundation for language is laid. Supporting your toddler to develop a strong language foundation gives him advantages in kindergarten, school and later on. Check out Getting a Head Start for more information.

The age ranges given here are general guidelines at best and show what most children do at this age. Young children’s language and learning develops at very different rates, and there is enormous variation when children hit major milestones. For example, some children say first recognizable words around their first birthday, others several months later. All of this is ‘normal’. Each child learns to communicate, understand and talk at her own pace, and so will yours. It’s best not to compare your child with others. Tune in, and observe that she makes continuous progress over time. If you are worried at any time, seek out your pediatrician for advice and support. Earlier is better than later.

The milestones and changes given mostly pertain to the developing communication and language skills. Skills in other developmental areas that affect how your child communicates with you, are integrated as well.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends developmental screenings at 9, 18, 20 or 30 months. Ask your pediatrician about your child’s developmental screening.

If you’d like to start reading early on, talk with your pediatrician about the Reach Out & Read Program. Parents who are enrolled in the program, get a book for their child at every well-child visit. You can also ask for coaching on how to best engage your child in reading.