Language development begins while the baby’s hearing develops in the womb. The baby is able to hear sounds before many of their other organs fully develop.
Once babies are born, their primary use of language begins with crying. Newborns cry when they need something, whether they need to eat, need a diaper change, need to sleep, need comfort, or are hurting. During the first 3 months they will recognize a parent or familiar voice when they speak, they will start to develop cooing sounds and will start smiling at you. They will develop different sounding cries for different needs that you will soon learn to recognize.
During months 3 to 6 they will start to make gurgling sounds while playing alone or while you’re talking with them. They will start to babble and make more sounds and move their heads around to other sounds they hear. They will respond to changes in your voice and also start realizing some toys make noise.
From months 6 to 12 you will notice them start to try and imitate sounds, start to say Dada and Mama and possible other simple words. They may can start to follow simple direction and recognize words for common things like “hat”.
By 18 months they may be able to say up to 10 words and recognize people’s names. They can point to their body parts when you name them and follow even more simple directions.
By 24 months they may be able to say 50 words and can say simple phrases like “all done” and ask a simple question like “more please?” They may be able to say 50 words or more.
If you feel a child is behind in language at any point, do not hesitate to bring it up to a doctor, or mention it to your client that they should speak to a professional about it. Catching delays early can make all the difference!