safe motherhood

How your baby develops

Learning to talk

At six months your baby can babble and respond to the emotion expressed in your voice. By nine months he or she will know their own name and may be able to say "mama" or "dada". They also understand when you say "no" - although they won't always obey you! Your baby may now 'join in' with the actions in a rhyme.

Between nine and 12 months, your baby's babbling starts to reflect the intonation and accentuated facial expressions they use when imitating your speech.

Your baby will also start pointing, trying to draw your attention to objects. They will sometimes do this at the same time as using a sound or the beginnings of a word - therefore showing an awareness of the link between words, people or objects.

At 12 months your baby's vocabulary increases and starts to include names of familiar people and objects. They will understand far more than they can say and will be able to respond to instructions such as "give me the ball" or "wave goodbye".

Looking at books

It's never too early to introduce books. Cuddle your baby on your lap, read aloud - they will soon learn to respond to the rhythms of a story - and point to the pictures - or get them to point things out.

What to look for in a first book:

• Durability - books that can survive chewing.
• Colour - babies love bright colours, especially red.
• Texture - fluffy books, books with finger-sized holes in the pages, books with flaps to lift.
• Sound - squeaky books, crinkly books.
• Surprises - books with mirrors, or pop-up pages.
• Rhythms - repetitive text or nursery rhymes will show that words can be fun.

"The thing I find fascinating is how excited he gets looking at books," says Christina of nine-month-old George. "You can see his level of interest by how much he dribbles, and he gets really excited by pictures, especially pictures of other babies."

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