tykeTALK: 12 months

Speech and Language Developmental Milestones at 12 months:

  • Children will make many different sounds together, as though really talking, especially when they are playing alone.
  • Children will imitate or use gestures, like waving “bye-bye”.
  • Children will say several real words, like “mama”, “dada”, or “ba” for “baby” or “caca” for cracker.
  • Children will follow simple instructions like “Come here.”
  • Children will understand some words when they are accompanied by gestures, like “give me” when you are also holding out your hand.
  • Children will point to objects that they want or that they want to show you.
  • Children will start to imitate animal sounds.
  • Children will enjoy social games like “peek-a-boo” and will let you know that they want to play it over and over again.

How to make daily routines into language learning opportunities

  • All children need to have a variety of experiences, even when they are very young and are just beginning to talk.
  • Language learning happens all day long. If you talk to children while you are doing what you do every day, you are helping them to learn new words.
  • Every time children look at something, bring you something or show interest in something, give them the appropriate word. They will only learn words if they hear them regularly.
  • Use specific works. Instead of every vehicle being a truck, give them the right word (eg. “digger”, “dump truck”). Children can learn new words, if they hear them.
  • When you are doing the laundry, words like “in” and “out” can be repeated. You can never say a word too many times. Children need a lot of repetition to learn new words.
  • During feeding time, dressing time and bath time, talk to children about things they show interest in. Give them the words that they need now that they are starting to talk.
  • You can repeat words such as “on” and “off” during dressing time and words like “wet” and “splash” at bath time. Remember to use gestures, along with the words. Pat the water when you say “splash” and emphasize the on and off movements when putting clothing on or taking it off.
  • Using gestures helps children to see, as well as, hear the words. Add gestures to every word you use, if possible.
  • Make reading part of your daily routine. Children will enjoy sharing a book with you, before nap time and bed time. Encourage children to look at the book by drawing their attention to the pictures. Books about animals and objects that children see at home, are good books to help children learn. Library story times provide wonderful opportunities for children to hear different stories and to understand that visits to the library can provide great adventures. Library story times and other activities are listed on library websites such as the London Public LibraryMiddlesex County LibrariesElgin County Libraries and Oxford County Libraries.


What are the best ways to encourage speech and language at this stage?

  • Use short, simple sentences when talking with children. Children, at this stage, need to hear correct grammar, but hearing shorter sentences like, “There is the ball”, help children to begin to put words together, when they are ready.
  • Repeat many of the words and songs you are sharing with children. You might think you have sung the song enough, or said the word 100 times. Children love repetition and this is how they learn. You can never say a word or sing a song too many times. By repeating the words, you make it easier for children to learn. You can learn new songs and rhymes by visiting your community Ontario Early Years Centre, where there are programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers and workshops for parents, at no charge.
  • Use a lot of gestures, like pointing to things and raising your hands while saying “up”. Children learn words faster when gestures are used with words. Waving “bye-bye” and shaking your head “yes” or “no” will help children hear and see the words.
  • Share books with children. Even though they might not be interested in the words or the story, they will enjoy this special time with you. Point out pictures and talk about them. Reading books with children every day will help their language develop.
  • Children at this age particularly like to see books with animals. Say the animal name and let your child hear the animal sounds. (eg. “The cow says moo”). To learn more about helping children learn language visit the following websites: www.hanen.orgwww.healthybabyhealthybrain.ca.


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