What to Expect


Panel of Experts

This blog is dedicated to learning no matter how young or old.

It is coauthored by some awesome students in my Human Development Class; Patrick, Makaila, Alexis and Joel as we worked together in a group Project, “What to Expect.”

Our assignment: present information aimed at parents using some form of media to help them understand what to expect from their child/children during their first three years of life.


The first word my son, Riley learned was “Wow!” It wasn’t “mama” or “dada” like most children. It was “wow.” And, he said it as if he had just seen a double rainbow, “Woooooow!” He w9940c-firstwordas about ten months old at the time and I was convinced he was a genius and would be heading off to Harvard by the time he was five. But, as I have since learned, most parents believe their kid is a genius at this time in life. Why? Because this stage of development is a time of explosive growth and change. And according to, Child, “never again will a person grow so quickly or change so rapidly,” except maybe at mid-life, but that is for another blog.

The average baby says his first words between 10 and 14 months. So, Riley was doing what babies are supposed to do at that age, learning to communicate. Experts call it language acquisition in which the human child begins to use verbal expression to convey meaning. Not only does this ability separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom it allows us as human beings to reflect on and communicate our needs, feelings, and ideas to govern our own lives and bond with others. As comedian and social activist George Carlin expressed so brilliantly, “Because we do think in language…the quality of our thoughts and ideas can only be as good as the quality of our language.”

Since language development in the first three years of life determines future development, and because it is through language that we connect to people, and connection and bonding to others has proven to extend one’s life, Patrick, Makaila, Alexis, Joel and I decided to focus exclusively on language for this project. We have put together some information of what to expect from your child in the first three years of language development. We broke it down into three categories: biological, cognitive and social since most developmental scientists today believe acquiring language is an intricate interweaving of all three domains. We not only hope to enlighten parents and caregivers all over the world contributing to the health and well-being of children and society, we hope to get a good grade.

To begin we must first look at two different schools of thought.


Nature vs Nurture

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Because babies have an inherent inborn capacity to acquire language, babies learn language easily without formal teaching.

Because of this inborn capacity, babies can make their needs known before they can use words. How? They cry. Crying is a newborns first form of communication. Babies actually have different distinct cries from both hunger and pain. The more they need assistance from a parent or caregiver, the higher the frequency the cry.

Infants can tell the difference between sounds of any language. This makes learning a second language in the first six months easy and natural. But, babies eventually lose this capability to discriminate between sounds making learning a second language more difficult as they get older.language4

Before babies can speak, they use gestures. It is a perfect time to teach them sign language to communicate which in turn actually helps them to learn to talk.

Babies around the age of 9 to 10 months actually deliberately imitate sounds even it they don’t understand them. This is a key to early language development. Check it out in action in the video below:

As infants imitate sounds they can begin to connect these sounds to meanings. For example, babies recognize their name usually way before they can say it themselves.

Talk to your babies. Read to your babies. They have an inherent ability to understand more than you think.







Speech has a very intimate connection with cognitive development in and it has been shown that the tremendous amount of brain development in the child’s early years is closely linked with language development.

As babies become familiar with the sounds of words and phrases, they will start to apply meaning.

Stubabytalk.headdies show that children hear and learn from the sounds of speech even while they are still in the womb! When children are born, they come out with a subtle understanding of sounds specific to their native language. This is because they have been listening to outside sources of sounds of speech for  months, such as the mother and father conversing. As we already discussed, newborns seem to be preset to distinguish basic linguistic sounds.

From birth to about nine months, a baby is taking in speech sounds and categorizing them based on similarities. During this time, your child is building upon their sound vocabulary in attempts to put together words. A mother and father can expect basic vowel sounds such as “ahhh” or “oooo.” These sounds are often referred to as cooing. This ability to produce language is essential and perhaps the foundation for learning new things.

Around ten months, parents can expect their precious child to say their first word. Most often, a child’s first word describes something. For instance, a child might point to a dog and say, “Dog!” During this time though, a child usually overextends the use of their words. They might be heard calling cats or maybe even dad’s beard a “Dog.” See, this is because as a child is learning language they are also developing the concepts behind the words.

During your child’s second year of life is when they will begin to increase vocabulary. They begin to develop actual concepts behind words in order to assign words to things such as the “dog.” Similarly, they also begin to assign symbolic meaning to gestures. For instance a child might blow on something to express that it is hot. We can see here that the use of more words helps a child develop concepts behind actual words. This is a big way in which cognitive development is a function of language development.

In thlanguagee third year of your child’s life, they will begin to decrease gestures and increase speech. They have learned how to put words together and will begin to do just that. At this time, your child wants to talk. They begin to put sentences together. By sentences here, we mean only about two or three words max. They begin to learn new words every day and develop their vocabulary.

Cognitive development skyrockets towards about thirty five to thirty six months. At this point your child knows around one thousand words and is quite intelligible. They are able to think about a sentence and speak with very few mistakes in syntax.




HUD play


Language is a social activity. It is necessary to not only have the biological factors and cognitive abilities, but it is essential to interact with others.

It is apparent in every civilization that talking at an early age is important. Those who have a grasp on language or even simple sounds at a young age are going to successfully develop language skills. The social aspects of talking are very important.

Talking is the reason we are humans, children should be talked to from birth and in many cases they are talked to before birth, they begin listening. This helps provide them with some sounds and an idea of how to form words by watching and feeling for the movement of the mouth.

A lot of toys encourage children to make sounds and talk with them, so children who are under the age of three have a huge opportunity to use these toys that focus on repetition and song.

The repetition of a parent repeating the sounds of the child also helps to encourage them to continue to babble and make sounds.HUD play2

Play helps increase their vocabulary exponentially as well. Ask them questions about the toy or things around it to aid in their understanding. 

Read to them. Reading to them when they are babies helps prepare them for literacy later.

During the first three years, talking with the child is very important to help reinforce and build the foundation for language acquisition.

Correcting the child when they are learning new words also helps reinforce the words learned.

Television cannot replace a parent or caregiver. They do not learn the same way as they do with an actual human being.

Social learning through exploration of language will help increase the child’s abilities to develop a good base for language in the future.   

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