0-12m Use of Language

What is it?

Expressive language means your child’s use of language, e.g. learning to say new words and putting them together. This can also include non-verbal communication, such as use of gestures. As children develop, they grow their vocabulary and use longer, more complex sentences.

What to expect?

By 12 months old, babies will usually:

  • make talking noises and babble strings of sounds, e.g. “da da da”
  • point and look at you to get your attention
  • use gestures
  • probably say their first words, although they might not be clear to everyone

Information & advice

You can help by:

  • copying your baby’s babbling sounds
  • taking it in turns to talk and ‘have a conversation’ with them
  • singing familiar nursery rhymes with actions with them
  • talking to them and commenting on what is happening
  • playing with sounds and words, e.g. making animal noises in play

Watch our video on using words, sentences and beyond.


  • Bath time – here are some words you can use to talk to your baby in the bath:  “squeeze, sponge, boat, duck, splash!”
  • Bubbles – words to use while playing with bubbles with your baby “bubble, big, pop!”
  • Share stories and rhymes with your baby, e.g. ‘row, row, row your boat’ and do the actions