Developmental Communication Milestone Series: 4-8 Months

Before babies can talk, they begin to understand language and words. At this stage, babies are beginning to recognize basic emotions, words, and gestures and show preferences and interests by their facial expressions, the sounds they make, and their actions. At 8 months of age, babies should be using a wide variety of sounds. Many sounds are just exploratory while others begin to have meaning and are used repeatedly. Babbling begins to resemble the quality of language being spoken to them during daily routines, and babies begin using their own gestures in imitation of the ways they see their caregivers gesture to communicate. By 6-8 months of age, babies should also be using prelinguistic communication skills such as eye gaze, gestures, and vocalizations consistently to make their wants and needs known. They should also be pairing these skills consistently in meaningful communication attempts.

By 8 months of age, babies should:

  • Look toward mother when asked, “Where’s mommy?” or look for bottle when asked, “Where’s bottle?”
  • Look worried when someone speaks in a stern voice
  • React to caregiver’s facial expressions
  • Participate in games such as peek-a-boo
  • Become excited when they hear a familiar word such as “bottle” or “kitty”
  • Lift arms toward you when you ask “down?” or “up?”
  • Look away when they don’t want to eat any more
  • Wave hi/bye

Vocally babies should be:

  • Copying nonverbal sounds such as cough or kiss sound
  • Spontaneously babble repeated consonants such as “da-da-da”
  • Repeat consonant sounds such as “ma-ma-ma” or “ba-ba-ba”
  • Babble different consonants such as “ga-da-ba”
  • Vocalize sounds along with someone who is singing to them

Your baby may need additional support if:

  • Baby is not looking toward family members when their names are said
  • Baby does not look around to find who is speaking to them or when their name is called
  • Pays little attention to and does not initiate joint attention games such as peek-a-boo
  • Makes only a few sounds
  • Not attempting to imitate non-verbal sounds and early consonant sounds
  • Does not imitate hand movements or gestures (waving bye, playing patty-cake)