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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 4, Lesson 4

Expected Language Behaviors

The following table illustrates some goals and expected language behaviors of infants and toddlers. To fully develop, language depends on the careful scaffolding of adults and other experienced peers during play and many other everyday routines and places. Use the information in this table as you explore the partnerships between the service provider and family that develop the contexts for language.

Selected Play and Daily Living Supports for Language Development

Age Examples of Language Play behaviors Typical Adult support with objects or others Adaptive Adult support with objects or others
Young Infants Birth to 8 Months - cries to signal pain or distress
-smiles to make contacts with others
-responds to voices and gazes
-uses vocal and non
-vocal communication to express interest or delight
-combines babbles
-understands names
-use exaggerated speech while facing the baby to stimulate cooing
-make silly expressions for baby's intent expressions and overall body responsiveness
-name the baby's body parts as you touch each one
-sing to the baby for auditory intrigue and emotional comfort
-put the babies head next to your chest as you talk so he can feel the sounds, too
-use brighter colors of object
-use soft objects to name or show -turn the baby's head to you as you speak
-look directly at the baby eyes when you speak to him/her
-use rattles to get his/her attention
Mobile Infants 8 Months to 18 Months -understands more words that can say
-looks at objects when named
-creates longer babble sentences
-shakes head - NO!
-looks at and points in picture books
-uses other vocal sounds to get attention
-uses me, I , you
-pretend to talk on the phone and then hold the phone for the baby to speak
-look at picture books together and make the animal sounds in the book
-repeat their sounds, ie ba-ba-ba back to them
-provide simple pictures for the baby to name
-provide phones and books that talk and repeat phrases
-use more simple language and ask them to repeat it
-provide larger photos with less people in each photo
-teach "baby-signs" (language) of common objects
Toddlers and Twos 18 Months to 35 Months -combines words -listens to stories for a short while
-may have 200 word vocabulary -develops fantasy in language
-defines household items
-uses compound sentences
-uses adjective and adverbs
-look at family photos together and say - "point to..."
-engage in fantasy play and ask "what are you pretending?"
-count with the child
-have the child tell you about his drawings and paintings
-provide a simple PECs (picture cuing) system for the child to point to pictures to let you know what he/she wants
-provide more guidance and suggestions in fantasy play to enrich the experience
-provide books with audiotapes and headphones

From: Brain Wonders (Bredekamp & Copple, l987; Frost, Worthington, Reifel, 2005; Gozalez-Mena, Eyer, 2004; Johnson, Christie, &Yawkey, 1999; Johnson-Martin, Jens, Attermeier, & Hacker, 1991; O'Brien, 1997.

Language and Speech: Critical Points for Interventions

Read the Introduction to Early Literacy informational topics listed below.

  • What We Know About Early Language and Literacy Development
  • Early Literacy Does Not Mean Early Reading
  • What Infants and Toddlers Can Do - Early Literacy Behaviors

Next, read Repeated Readings Here, you will find the answer to the following question "Why does a young toddler insist on having the same book read over and over again?"

Consider these questions:

  1. Sometimes families say they are too busy to read to their child. What would you as a service provider say and do to work with the family?
  2. What community resources are available to help families with their child's literacy development?
  3. Do you know how to make a book with a family that they can read with their child?


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