What to Expect in Early Speech Development

December 01, 2017

A Wee Overview of Early Speech Development (birth through 1 year) 

From birth, babies are equipped to develop speech skills. Speech is defined as the articulation of sounds. It requires hearing + involves the coordination of breathing and precise movements of the jaw, lips + tongue to produce vowel and consonant sounds.

This post will go over babies’ physical development and how that impacts the beginning sounds you’ll hear from your babies. It is not an exhaustive checklist, but a brief overview of physical + speech growth.

Newborn – 3 months the foggy first months

  • By the end of the first month, hearing is fully developed
  • The tongue is large in the mouth, babies breathe through their noses at this age
  • Vision skills are developing: vision is up to 8 – 12 inches away
  • Speech: coos, goos, grunts + ahs, also makes a variety of crying sounds
  • Babies react to loud sounds and quiets/smiles when spoken to

 4 months -  6months  time for your baby to sit u

  • Babies begin to sit up when supported
  • Arm movements expand
  • Ribcage widens and larynx (part of the neck where vocal cords lie) elongates
  • All of this physical development results in the beginning of babbling
  • Speech: babies may produce a variety of sounds (gurgling sounds) and may start      babbling with p, b, m
  • Babies laugh, notice toys that make sounds

7 months – 10 months a period of great growth

  • Head and neck muscles strengthen. Babies may start to sit unsupported at times
  • This frees their arms to explore, reach out + across
  • Rolling over from front/back may emerge
  • Full color vision develops and distance vision matures
  • Speech: babies may babble to get + keep your attention, may hear groups of sounds (tata, upupupupababa), beginning to imitate sounds  (may hear: p, b, m, h, w, d)
  • Gestures should begin to develop too (reaching, holding up arms)

10 months to 1 year  ready, set go!

  • Many motor milestones achieved here
  • Babies are more upright – cruising, early walking
  • Curiosity expands both physically and cognitively
  • Speech: first words may be emerging around 1st birthday
  • Babies begin to use sounds to connect to the world around them. They may say “mee-my” for bottle or “bo-bo” for yogurt
  • Gestures should loom large here too (waving, pointing, showing objects to others)

As your baby physically develops, this will impact their speech development as well. Keep in mind that development is a process, with many interconnected pieces, that happens over time. If you have questions or concerns, speak to your pediatrician at your next well baby visit.

 For now, go back to those moving, crying, noisy babies.


Thank you as always for reading. Till the next post, take care.




Vanessa D’Auria is a licensed speech-language pathologist providing home-based services in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. For more information about Vanessa, visit speechtherapyvanessadauria.com or to ask speech/language questions, email directly atspeechtherapynyc@gmail.com.

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