Early Language Development

I wanted to discuss language today. It’s always so exciting when your little one starts to talk! I would like to discuss some of the development behind language and give some pointers on how to facilitate appropriate language development.

The mouth is a muscle and from birth children need to be using this muscle. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding is one of the first movements in their mouth where they are learning to suck and swallow. This sets the stage for sound making. Right now, slowly make the R sound with your mouth (are you doing it?) See how your tongue moves to the back and roof of your mouth to make that sound? Sucking and swallowing help children work out that muscle.

Children love to mouth toys. I know it is hard, but no matter what it is your little ones are putting everything in their mouth, please let them do it! I know it is a scary phase; you have to make sure everything is clean and you don’t want them to choke, but this is a serious part of development. They are exploring their mouth and developing their muscles. I’ve seen children who skip this phase and then later have a delay in speech. If you are one of those parents that haven’t let your little mouth toys, take heart! They can catch up!  But moving forward, do not deny them this time to explore.

Around eight months, you will start to hear them putting their new mouth muscles to use! Typically they’ll make a string of sounds like ‘ba-ba-ba’ ‘da-da-da’ ‘ma-ma-ma’.  As your little one gets closer to one, they will use these sounds more purposefully (ya know calling mom ‘ma-ma’ or dad  ‘da-da’).  Typically sound development moves from the front of the mouth to the back. Sounds that you can see on your lips are the first to come.  These are the  ‘ma’ ‘da’ ‘pa’ ‘ba’ sounds. As children age more sounds will come, and some not until they are school aged (5+).

In early language development, we want to hear babbling.  Mixed in with the babbling you will want to hear both consonant and vowel sounds. As their language develops you will hear more of a conversational babble, this is called Jargon.  Remember these cute twins?  Notice the repeated vowel sounds and back and forth communication. This is a great example

In a later post I will talk about ways to encourage children to talk on their own and put two and three words together.  I wanted to leave with some tips on how to help with early development:

  • Encourage your little one to mouth toys. Use teething rings, O-balls, or soft toys   that won’t hurt their gums.
  •  Talk to your baby. Get up close and let them see how your mouth moves.
  •  When your kiddo is starting to use purposeful sounds, label their play. Give them the words to use when they are ready.
  •  Lastly, give positive praise when they are communicating.  You want to really encourage them to keep communicating.


Language is such a fun part of a child’s development. Personality really comes out in language and we want to encourage good language development. Let me know if you have any specific language questions.


XO Deborah
*The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.  This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.  Please consult your healthcare provider before making any diet or treatment decisions.

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