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Children learn language at different rates, but most follow a general timeline. If your child doesn't seem to be meeting communication milestones within several weeks of the average, ask her doctor about it.
It may be nothing, but if your child is delayed in some way, recognizing and treating the problem early is crucial for developing language and other cognitive skills in the long run.
Keep in mind that the timetable for language development is broad, and your child may run into small roadblocks along the way. Also remember that if your baby is a preemie, she may be off schedule by a few weeks or months.
When to get help
As a general rule, trust your instincts. If something seems wrong to you, ask about it. After all, you know your child best. Talk to your child's doctor if your baby shows any of these signs:
At 4 months
- Doesn't let you know when she's happy or upset
- Doesn't coo or start to babble
At 6 months
- Doesn't laugh or squeal
- Doesn't combine vowels to babble (ah, eh, oh)
At 7 months
- Doesn't imitate the sounds other people make
- Isn't using actions to get your attention
At 8 months
- Hasn't started babbling consonants
At 9 months
- Doesn't respond to her name
- Doesn't babble consonants and vowels together ("mama," "baba")
- Doesn't look where you point
At 12 months
- Doesn't say "mama" or "dada"
- Doesn't use gestures such as waving, shaking her head, or pointing
- Doesn't practice using at least a couple of consonants (like p or b, for example)
- Doesn't understand and respond to words like "no" and "bye-bye"
- Isn't pointing out things of interest such as a bird or airplane overhead
- Can't say single words
Between 12 and 15 months
- Doesn't babble as if talking
See our articles on the warning signs of a physical delay and the warning signs of a hearing problem, and learn about language delays for toddlers.
Read about developmental delays and see our other resources, too.