7 to 18 Months
7 to 12 Months
What your baby is doing: Her babbling will begin to sound more like words. She'll intentionally repeat sounds (e.g., "gaga") over and over. At about 9 months, she'll start to understand gestures, pointing and grunting to indicate her wants. At about 10 months, she'll gain more control and begin combining sounds. The first word often appears around 12 months. Common first words may be greetings ("Hi" or "bye-bye"). Or they might be very concrete: people ("ma, ma" or "da, da"), pets ("doggy" or "kitty"), or food ("cookie," "juice," or "milk").
What your baby can understand: Your baby is slowly beginning to comprehend a few words, things like names and everyday objects such as "bottle" or "crib." She keys in on intonation, realizing that a sharp tone often means "No!" or "Stop!" Sometime between 10 and 12 months, she'll begin to lose the ability to hear all possible sounds in any language, because she's becoming a specialist in her native tongue.
Things you can do to help: It's never too early to start reading to your child. Now's a good time to introduce simple board books. Repeat single words and sounds to help understanding along. Although you may feel silly at first, narrate your daily activities, "I'm opening the fridge. Here's the orange juice! Let's take the juice out. We're pouring the juice." If you're so inclined, start to introduce simple hand signs that symbolize words.
What to watch: Don't worry if your child doesn't produce that first word by her first birthday. If she seems to understand a few words, she'll soon be producing some of her own.
What your baby is doing: As soon as your baby gets out that first word, he'll try for more. Vocabulary builds slowly at first, just a few words a month. Kids seem to prefer nouns at first, then gradually add verbs and adjectives. He'll experiment with one-word questions, like "Cookie?" for "May I have a cookie?" and delight in saying "No!"
What your baby can understand: He should understand the first rudiments of grammar, such as the difference between "The dog bit the man" and "The man bit the dog." He should grasp simple instructions and understand many more words than he can say.
Things you can do to help: Encourage your child to talk. Name things: "There's the couch" or "See the mailman." Play simple games, like "What do you see?" and "Where is it?" Remember, two-word phrases, such as "Want juice?" and "Bobby up!" precede full-blown sentences. Give your child lots of examples.
What to watch: Babies can process a lot of stimuli at once, but even these miniature multitaskers have their limits. Language progress may slow a bit if he's concentrating on some other milestone, such as learning to walk or run. Talk to your doctor if your child hasn't said a word by 18 months.