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An Overview of Early Childhood Development

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Stages of Language Development
Stages of Language Development

Children go through a number of different stages as language develops, from the earliest stage of producing cooing sounds through being able to produce complex, multi-word sentences.

Image courtesy Martin Lundgren
  1. Babbling: The first stage of language development is known as the prelinguistic, babbling or cooing stage. During this period, which typically lasts from the age of three to nine months, babies begin to make vowel sounds such as oooooo and aaaaaaa. By five months, infants typically begin to babble and add consonant sounds to their sounds such as ba-ba-ba, ma-ma-ma or da-da-da.
  2. Single Words: The second stage is known as the one-word or holophase stage of language development. Around the age of 10 to 13 months, children will begin to produce their first real words. While children are only capable of producing a few, single words at this point, it is important to realize that they are able to understand considerably more. Infants begin to comprehend language about twice as fast as they are able to produce it.
  3. Two Words: The third stage begins around the age of 18 months, when children begin to use two word sentences. These sentences usually consist of just nouns and verbs, such as "Where daddy?" and "Puppy big!"
  4. Multi-word Sentences: Around the age of two, children begin to produce short, multi-word sentences that have a subject and predicate. For example, a child might say "Mommy is nice" or "Want more candy."

As children age, they continue to learn more new words every day. By the time they enter school around the age of five, children typically have a vocabulary of 10,000 words or more.


Berk, L. E. (2006). Chapter 9 - Child Development (8th ed). Pearson.

Bjorkland, B. R. (1995). Language development and cognition. In David F. Bjorkland (Ed.), Children's thinking: Developmental function and individual differences. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Deckner, D. F., Adamson, L. B., & Bakeman, R. (2003). Rhythm in mother-infant interactions. Infancy, 4, 201-217.

Fernald, A. (1985). Four-month old infants prefer to listen to motherese. Infant Behavior and Development, 8, 181-182.

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Kendra Cherry

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