One Year

At age one year, the child should:

  • Use "mama" and "dada" and a few other simple words
  • Gesture and/or vocalize wants and needs
  • Wave goodbye and play peek-a-boo appropriately
  • Recognize his or her own name
  • Understand "no" and withdraw appropriately
  • Make some animal and motor sounds
  • Give an object on request
  • Show lots of affection -- especially to parents
  • Listen to and discriminate between many sounds
  • Understand simple instructions

You can stimulate the speech and language development of your one-year-old by:

  • Talking to your child as you care for him or her throughout the day
  • Singing songs and telling nursery rhymes
    Taking your child with you to new places and new situations
  • Reading colorful books to your child
  • Imitating your child's movement and vocalizations
  • Teaching the names of everyday items and familiar people
  • Using short words with your child
  • Rewarding and encouraging early efforts at producing new words

Some specifc activities are:

  • Play "where's the music" with a musical toy. Turn on the toy and, without your child looking, place the toy somewhere in the room. See if your child can find the toy.
  • Introduce your child to all of the sounds they can make such as humming, tongue clicking, buzzing, siren, etc. This will encourage your child to explore his or her tongue and mouth and see what it can do. It will strengthen these muscles for good speech development.
  • Use songs and nursery rhymes that have hand movement. Babies love this. Change the pitch of your voice and use different intensities. For example, you may use a squeaky voice on "the itsy bitsy spider" or a gradual deeper voice on "ride a little horsey down to town."
  • Play peek-a-boo not only with your face but with objects as well. This will help to teach object permanence.
  • Begin teaching basic prepositions of "in, out, over and under." You can use any object within your child's environment. Have your child put his or her favorite toy "on the table, under the chair or take it out of the bag."
  • Play outside as often as possible and name things when your child shows interest.


If you are concerned that your child may not be developing these skills as he or she should, you may seek the advice of a speech-language pathologist.