20 Social and Language Skills Your Baby Should Know Before One

by | Jul 1, 2020

Your baby has come a long way from being that tiny little newborn who could barely open his eyes or hold your hand to an active, loving, almost-toddler.

The changes you’ve witnessed in the past few months have probably amazed you. As they get closer to 1, they have become so much more interested in the world around them.

This need-to-explore attitude has allowed your baby to learn and experience so much, leading to accomplishing many new milestones each and every day.

How social and language skills emerge

Although your baby can’t fully communicate yet, they are showing signs of language all the time. By indicating what they want and getting their needs met, they are demonstrating communication skills.

They will start by making gestures, hand signals, and sounds to get your attention and show you what they want. Then as they realize that you’re understanding them, they can add in words.

Tip: Be sure that when your baby is reaching, pointing, or grunting at an object or person, you say the word aloud to them multiple times. Repetition is key for babies when learning new words and that is your opportunity to teach them.

If you’re consistently giving your child what they want by just pointing or grunting, they won’t learn to use verbal language to make their request.

8 Social Skills Your Baby Can Have Before 1

The following are social/emotional skills that are possible for your baby to demonstrate around 10 or 11 months.

If your child hasn’t reached all these milestones yet, don’t be too concerned as every baby grows and learns at their own pace. However, if you’re seeing an extreme lack of most of these skills, bring it up to your pediatrician at their 1-year well visit.

1. Joining in on the fun

Your baby will love watching other kids and adults playing, talking, and having fun. They’ll want to join in every chance they get.

If they’re on the other side of the room, they’ll get themselves over to the action in no time.

2. Clapping

Clapping will show that your baby is excited for something he sees. He will probably smile and bounce with excitement while watching things that he really likes.

Clapping involves bilateral coordination which allows your baby to use both hands at the same time.

Get them to clap by demonstrating/modeling it for them and having them imitate you. You can also simply take their hands and clap for them and they should pick it up quickly.

3. Interested in games and songs

Social, emotional, and language skills emerge early in your baby. Make sure your infant is on target by looking for these milstones before they turn one.

Infants love a good entertaining game of peek-a-boo or this little piggy. They’ll become so immersed in the sounds of music and fun little games, especially when they include hand gestures.

Try getting your baby’s attention by singing songs with gestures, such as The Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Twinkle, Twinkle. Soon enough they’ll be humming along and doing the actions with you, as well.

4. Imitating other children and adults

Like a game of Monkey see, Monkey do, your baby will want to try everything they’re observing. Whether it’s mom/dad, an older sibling, or grandparent, they will love copying exactly what they see.

Luckily, at this age they are learning and growing so much that it’s easy to teach them new behaviors. Just demonstrate exactly what you want them to do, use your own hands to help them do it, and they should be imitating you in no time!

5. Smiling

This is a social/emotional skill that emerges way earlier than 1 year. In fact, you’ll see that first smile from your baby around 2 months old.

A happy baby is a smart baby and if they’re showing that big toothless grin early on, they will be on their way to developing great social skills down the line.

6. Showing affection

Social, emotional, and language skills emerge early in your baby. Make sure your infant is on target by looking for these milstones before they turn one.

As your child approaches 1 (and even after), you’ll finally get those big hugs and kisses that you’ve been waiting for! Aren’t they what make all the sleepless nights worth it?

They will start hugging and kissing on cue as they approach 1 and as stated before, demonstrating these actions can help them learn quickly.

7. Separation anxiety

The separation anxiety phase may start around 8 or 9 months, but lessen as they near 1. This is when they realize when their caregiver leaves or is out of sight.

They may throw a fit when they realize you’re leaving or getting dropped off at day care. It’s a totally normal phase that they will grow out of soon!

8. Entertain themselves

Social, emotional, and language skills emerge early in your baby. Make sure your infant is on target by looking for these milstones before they turn one.

Although they may still demonstrate some separation anxiety at this age, they should also be able to keep themselves entertained indepednently. Toys, household objects, or even a blanket can keep them busy for a while!

You’ve come a long way from having to sit with your baby to teach them how to play, so enjoy the time that they will keep themselves occupied.

They still may look to a caregiver for approval like, Am I doing this right? Are you going to help me with it?

12 Language Skills Your Baby Should Have By 1

The following are language and communication skills that are possible for your baby to demonstrate around 10 or 11 months.

Some of these skills are picked up by your child if they see you doing it. If you’re not doing them, your child may not have learned them yet.

If your child hasn’t reached all these milestones yet, don’t be too concerned as every baby grows and learns at their own pace. However, if you’re seeing an extreme lack of most of these skills, bring it up to your pediatrician at their 1-year well visit.

1. Shaking head yes and no

Your baby may even be saying the words yes and no, but if not, they have probably picked up shaking their head. They may shake their head no when you’re making them do something they don’t want to do or when asking them a question.

Since they can’t fully use words to communicate at this point, they are still learning to express themselves in other ways.

2. Waving

Waving is their way of saying hi and bye if they haven’t learned the words yet. Some may wave their hand side to side and some may open and close their hands.

Again, modeling this action is the best way to teach your child.

3. Mama & Dada

These will most likely be your child’s first words that they should say before 1. Even if they call you mama once and then look out the window and say mama, that counts!

They understand you are mama, but don’t have the vocabulary for other objects or people so they just say what they can.

4. Babbling with different consonants and vowels

They’ve come a long way from repeating the sounds of da da da and ba ba ba. Your child should now be able to put different sounds together.

It may sound like babblin, but they also may think they are saying something. At this age they really do understand a lot more than it may seem.

5. Pointing

Pointing is an important form of communication for babies at this age. Since they don’t have the vocabulary for every single object or thing that they may want, pointing will get their “point” across.

Working on isolating that pointer finger so they can effectively point out what they want, helps them to express themselves better.

Related Post: 5 Easy Ways to Practice Pincer Grasp for Babies

6. Understands a simple instruction

When you tell your baby something simple to do, such as “give me a toy, put this in the box, or come to mom,” they should have an understanding and do what you ask.

As long as it only involves 1 step, your baby shouldn’t have a hard time with this.

Don’t misinterpret them not wanting to do something for them not knowing how to do something.

If your baby is playing with their favorite toy car when you say “come to mom,” they may not do it. However, that’s just merely them being more interested in toys than mom!

7. Can say some 1-syllable words

Your child may be able to name objects that are 1 syllable words or even have a 1 syllable word for a longer word. For example, some simple words include, dog, ball, milk, hi, and bye. They may also say bay for baby or which still counts!

The words may not always be used appropriately at all times or they may not say the word correctly, but that’s ok because they are still learning! As long as they are making an attempt, they’re on the right start.

Keep in mind that your baby will only learn what they are exposed to. If your child has never seen a dog, don’t be worried that they are not saying dog.

You have to teach them everything they know!

8. Understand actions

At this age, they start understanding that actions produce an effect.

For example, if you are opening the front door, they know they will be going outside. If they see you taking off their high chair tray, they know they are about to eat.

This helps them to be prepared for the next thing that’s going to happen since they don’t have full control over their lives yet.

9. Says At Least 1 or 2 Words with Intention

Before 1, their words may not be completely understandable. It’s ok if your baby is saying “muh” for milk or “buh” for ball. That’s what my daughter did at this age!

However, I knew that she understood those objects and had her own words for them. Although she couldn’t say the full word as it’s meant to be said, the language was still there and worth getting excited about.

Take awareness of the consistency of these babbles and notice how they use them correctly.

10. Sign language

Your baby can start using sign language around 9 months if you are consistent with teaching them the signs. The most common ones that you will see are for “more” and “all done.”

The easiest time to teach these signs is during meal time. Just demonstrate the signs as you are giving them more or when they’re showing signs of being all done.

This may be a good idea if you really want your baby communicating early. It will make your life easier to let baby express themselves this way.

Your baby won’t delay speaking just because they learn a few signs. However, it is important to say the word that goes along with the sign for increased language and understanding.

Check out this post on Baby Sign Language Basics to learn a few.

11. Body language

As listed already above, pointing and shaking heads are forms of body language that babies use to communicate. I listed those separately because those are big milestones.

Other forms of body language that your baby can use to communicate are facial expressions (mad, sad, confused) and gestures (slamming hands down, banging, covering eyes).

They are giving us great clues through their body language as to how they feel and what they need.

12. Testing their limits

Your baby is starting to test their limits and figure out what to do to get their parent’s attention. This is how they learn what is expected of them and what’s wrong.

This is the age when discipline will start because your baby can understand Yes and No. They may do things that they know will put the focus on them if that’s what they want or try to get away with something without you looking.

. . . . . .

If your baby is showing these language and communication or social and emotional skills by 1, they are right on track! Even if not, there is still time as all babies and children learn at their own pace and most of the time, there is no need to worry.

The best thing you can do is keep modeling and demonstrating words and behaviors to them and watch them copy you all day long. Talking to your baby may seem silly, but it’s the only way they will pick up new vocabulary and language skills.

Also remember that a lot happens very quickly during this age. Remember when your baby wasn’t sitting up one day and then a week later they could sit up independently? Or when they weren’t crawling and then 2 days later they were doing laps around your house?

So if your baby just turned 11 months and isn’t doing some of these things, don’t worry yet! A few weeks can make a big difference in a child’s development.

Social, emotional, and language skills emerge early in your baby. Make sure your infant is on target by looking for these milstones before they turn one.
Social, emotional, and language skills emerge early in your baby. Make sure your infant is on target by looking for these milstones before they turn one.

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