6-12 months

This is a guide to how babies typically learn to communicate between 6-12 months.

Babies develop skills at different rates, but most one-year olds will: 

  • Listen carefully, and turn to someone talking on the other side of the room. 
  • Look at you when you speak and when their name is called. 
  • Babble strings of sounds, like ‘na-na’ and ‘go-go’. 
  • Make noises, point and look at you to get your attention. 
  • Smile at people who are smiling at them. 
  • Start to understand words like ‘bye-bye’ and ‘up’ especially when you use an action as well. For example, they put their hands up when you say ‘up’ and hold your hands out.  
  • Start to recognise some familiar words, e.g. ‘Daddy’, ‘milk’, ‘eyes’.  
  • Enjoy action songs and rhymes and get excited when sung to. 
  • Take turns in ‘conversations’ where you talk and they babble back to you. 
  • Turn to look where you’re pointing when you show them something and say ‘look’. 
  • Enjoy playing fun games (for example, Peekaboo) and let you know they want to play again if you stop.  
  • Start to say one or two recognisable words, for example ‘mama’, although these are not spoken very clearly. 

Resource library for families

Our expert team of speech and language professionals have produced a range of factsheets, based on our most frequently asked questions from parents and families, to help you support your child.
Learn more

Things to look out for 

Some children struggle with learning to talk and understand words. Possible signs to look at for at this early age include: 

  • Your baby does not respond to noises by 9 months of age. 
  • Your baby does not point to things they are interested in by one year. 
  • Your baby does not try to gain your attention by making noises by one year. This could be through eye contact, facial expressions or reaching. 

If you notice any of these things, talk to your health visitor or GP, or your child’s setting or childcare provider. You can also contact our free speech and language advice line, which is a confidential phone call with an experienced speech and language therapist. During the 30-minute call, you will be given the opportunity to talk through your concerns and questions regarding your child’s development. You can book your phone call here. 

For tips on how you can support your baby’s communication skills, have a look at some of our parent resources: 

Child's progress checker

Our progress checker is based on what we know about how babies and children develop skills. Choose the age of the child and then answer the questions. At the end, we will direct you to some helpful advice and resources.

Child's progress checker