Language Skills: The First 3 Months

0-3 MONTHS LANGUAGE SKILLSLooking at a newborn it is difficult to imagine them talking, but believe it or not they are already working on the skills to get there!  In the first three months babies are taking in a lot of new information and practicing the skills that they will need to be able to express their wants (expressive language) and needs as well as follow directions (receptive language).

 Language skills are present from day one and will look a little different from one baby to the next.   If you are ever concerned about your little one’s development always seek out the Early Intervention program in your area for a free screening or evaluation.  In this post I will give you information about what communication skills look like and how to encourage these skills in babies from birth to three months.

Are you thinking about teaching your little one a second language?  Starting from birth is one of the best ways to help them learn.  Click HERE for information on an easy way to get started!



Hearing your baby’s cries is a sign that they are working on their expressive language.  By crying they are indicating they need something whether it be milk, a clean diaper, or just a snuggle.  If you listen closely you will notice their cries change a bit depending on what they want.  The pitch, volume, or duration may change to indicate they are hungry or just need a nap.

Cooing, Laughing, and Smiling

One of the best moments in any new mom’s life is when she hears her little one coo or giggle for the first time.  They may be responding to you or maybe it is just gas, but the sound is delightful and a sign that your baby is able to express themselves.  Smiling in response to hearing their mother’s voice is also a cue that they are able to respond to their environment and express happiness in who is near.

Responding to Sounds and Voices

Your little one may stop moving and become still when they hear a new sound so that they can take it all in.  They may also do the opposite by startling.  Both of these reactions show that your little one has heard something that they are unsure of and are trying to process and respond to the information present.  This indicates that your little one’s receptive language skills are in place.  Most hospitals do a hearing test very soon after birth to ensure your baby is hearing, as it is a critical way for them to take in information.

HOW YOU can encourage language skills:


Monkey hear, monkey say!  Babies need to hear lots and lots of words before they are able to start speaking themselves.  Not only do they need to hear  a lot of different words, but they also need to hear each word many times in order to repeat it.  If you start labeling objects, feelings, actions, and people from day one your little one will be able to imitate those words down the road.

You can introduce your baby to many words by narrating your day.  Talk about what you are going to make for dinner or talk about a what you see while driving in the car.  If you speak multiple languages feel free to speak both to them while they are babies.  This will allow them to learn both, instead of having to teach them desperately later on in life.  There are many benefits for children that grow up bilingual!


What is special about singing is it allows your baby to hear new words in a repetitive way.  We know that repetition is important in order for  a baby to learn a word and singing naturally does that for us.  You can sing simple rhymes during diaper changes or make up your own tunes throughout the day.  Turn on music while in the car and sing along to the tunes.

social games

Make silly faces, blow raspberries and play peek-a-boo with your baby.  These classic games engage your little one and get them interested in you!  In order for a baby to learn to imitate they need to first be able to watch you.  Watch how they respond to see which silly faces they like the most.

When your baby starts to make little coos and sounds try to imitate them.  Your baby will find this interesting and may even try to have a mini conversation with you.  Go along with it and see what silly sounds you both can make.


Reading is one of the most powerful ways to work on language development with you little one.  Start with soft squishy books with simple pictures.  Label the pictures for your baby and let them explore the book with their hands.  Comment when they vocalize at the pictures to let them know you hear them.

If you are looking for more ways to encourage your baby’s development check out One Minute Milestones.

Would you like to learn about the other areas of development?  Check them out in the list below!


Motor Development




An easy way to be PREPARED for you next well baby visit is to download the PDF below!  It is FREE and PRINTABLE.  Those first three months can be a little sleep deprived and busy so use this to easily track all of those exciting milestones!

About Kayla ONeill

This is me and my beautiful bouncing baby boy! Before my little guy arrived I earned a Bachelor's degree in Special Education Birth to 21 as well as my Masters in Education. For six years I worked as an Early Interventionist serving children and families from birth to age three before becoming a stay at home mom to be with my son.

8 comments on “Language Skills: The First 3 Months

  1. I didn’t realize newborns had the ability to differentiate between expressive and receptive language but now that you point it out I see it! This was really informative. Thanks!

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