What to Expect in Receptive Language: Birth to 12 months 

 April 28, 2015

By  Jen Cohn

Hearing and Understanding: Receptive Language

Receptive Language is the ability to understand both words and gestures.

So when baby stops doing something when you say “no” or follows a simple command such as “bring me the ball”, that is receptive language.

Birth-3 months:

At this time, you will probably see your baby startle when he or she hears a loud sound.

We make a lot of concoctions in our food processor and Vitamix and Sweet Pea definitely “jumped” when we turned them on!

Baby also may quiet or smile when you speak and it may seem like your sweetie might just actually recognize your voice by quieting down if crying.

You may also notice that your baby might slow or increase their sucking behavior when they hear a certain sound.

Here’s a little picture of Sweet Pea when she was just a few days old.

We were blending something in the Vitamix when this pic was snapped and my husband jokes that it looks like she is covering her ears to block out the sound.

Sleeping Sweet Pea

4-6 months:

I call this the “sound stage.” Things start to get fun and at this point in time, baby will start to move their eyes towards a sound.

I noticed at this time that Sweet Pea was starting to get distracted. If I was talking to my husband or if the TV was on, she would turn from what she was doing to look.

She also started paying more attention to toys that made sounds like rattles, bells, and musical toys. It was during this time that Sweet Pea started really enjoying music.

We both sing to her but daddy takes it to a whole new level and plays all kinds of music, sings, dances, and really puts on a show for her.

You might notice that your baby responds to a change in your tone of voice.

When I raised my voice she would lift her eyebrows and just stare at me but when I sang or talked playfully, she would smile and try to communicate.

Holding Sweet Pea

7 months-1 year:

At this point in the game, your baby will start to enjoy interactive games such as peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake.

Baby really listens when you talk to him or her and begins to recognize words for a few common objects such as “ball”, “shoe”, and “cup.”

Later on in the stage, baby will follow a simple direction such as “Give mama kiss”, “Come here”, or “Go get the ball.”

Sweet Pea Playing

Well that’s a brief description of receptive language. Remember that this is just a very basic guideline and if you have any concerns or questions regarding your baby’s speech or language development, talk to your pediatrician.

Jen Cohn

I’m a speech language pathologist and homeschooling mom to two sweet peas. I’m passionate about early speech and language development and play-based therapy!

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