Year 1: From Sounds To Understanding

Since babies change so much in how they communicate and interact with caregivers in the first year, it is split into four age ranges.

From Birth and Up

  • Communicates with cries, grunts and facial expressions
  • Cries differently depending on needs
  • Loves voices, especially those of familiar people
  • Loves faces, especially those of familiar people
  • Makes eye contact
  • Coos
  • Social smile starts
  • Can hold a few turns in the conversation
  • Becomes interested in objects and swipes at them when they are close
  • Tracks moving objects with eyes, especially when you talk as well
  • Likes to look at objects with big, bold patterns and bright colors
  • Imitates your facial expressions (vaguely, not exact copies)
  • Searches with eyes where sounds come from
  • Sees you only sharp at a distance of 8-12 inches at first, very poor vision 20/600
  • Orients head to speaking voice

From 3 Months and Up

  • Coos
  • Vocalizes more
  • Enjoys experimenting with different sounds, varies pitch, loudness
  • Vocalizes when engaging with caregiver
  • Scans faces for details, watches faces very closely
  • Starts to understand first messages but only in Parentese (encouragement vs. discouragement)
  • Improves in turn-taking
  • Starts to anticipate her turn in conversations
  • Starts to reach and explore things with eyes, hands, mouth
  • Enjoys interactive games such as peekaboo
  • Starts to imitate simple actions
  • Improves ability to locate sounds

From 6 Months and Up

  • Babbling begins (da-da, ma-ma, consonant-vowel combinations)
  • Responds to own name
  • Recognizes names of familiar people (mommy, daddy) and other often heard words
  • Starts to understand first situations and gestures, familiar rituals and social games
  • Starts to gesture and use communicative look to indicate what he wants
  • Improves imitation of actions – imitations get very specific: bangs object if he sees you bang it
  • Starts to use gesture to communicate – waves when you say ‘bye’, shakes head for ‘no’
  • Is good at transferring objects from hand to hand
  • Tries to get things that are out of reach
  • Knows that things out of sight haven’t vanished – looks for them
  • Loves peekaboo & hide and seek games

From 9 Months and Up

  • Understands common words
  • Babbles get more varied and strings of babbles are getting longer
  • Babbles sound like real speech – have the intonation contour of her language
  • May be afraid of strangers – clingy with familiar people
  • Understands simple gestures and situations
  • Copies gestures of others
  • May start to point
  • Follows eye gaze
  • Follows you when you point at something
  • Explores things in different ways – shaking, banging,
  • Engages in solitary play
  • Loves hide & seek games