Speech and language development: nine to 12 months

Don’t worry, no one expects your nine to 12-month-old to be reciting the alphabet just yet! Your child’s speech and language development starts with the nonsensical babble that you hear everyday, as well as other forms of communication.

Developmental milestones include:

  • He is stringing a range of babbling sounds together to makes a ‘sentence’
  • By 10 months, he can shake his head to indicate ‘no’
  • He understands a couple of words including his own name
  • He can copy sounds that he hears

What can I do to encourage his speech and language development?

  • Spend time with him showing him how to clap his hands, point and wave good-bye.
  • Accompany these hand gestures with simple words or sounds.
  • Babble with him using a range of tone and volume.
  • Sing songs with him and bounce him on your knee so he gets to enjoy your singing and the rhythm!
  • Repeat simple phrases – ‘look at the cat. Can you see the cat? Where’s the cat?’
  • Play a simple form of hide-and-seek. Hide behind the couch and say ‘Where’s mummy?’ ‘Here I am!’
  • Share picture books with simple, clear illustrations

Signs that suggest a developmental problem:

  • His babbling hasn’t developed and he doesn’t hold ‘conversations’ with you

All children are different and develop at different rates, so don’t be overly concerned if your baby is acquiring new skills at a different rate to those around her. But if you are worried about her development, talk to a health professional for a little reassurance.


This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot. Sources include SA Government’s Parenting & Child Health and Raising Children Network.

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