12 Months

Does your 1-year-old…

  • follow simple one-step directions – “sit down”?
  • look across the room to something you point to?
  • use three or more words?
  • use gestures to communicate – waves “bye-bye”, shakes head “no”?
  • get your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes?
  • bring you toys to show you?
  • “perform” for attention and praise?
  • combine lots of sounds as though talking e.g. “abada baduh abee”?
  • show interest in simple picture books?


If your child does not do one or several of the above, we can help!

Complete the First Words Communication Checkup or contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 or 613-PARENTS for more information.

Renfrew county families may call our Intake Office at 613-732-7007, ext. 5905 or 1-888-421-2222.


Also, look out for any of these red flags:

  • A limited shared interest in others
  • Lack of response to their name
  • Late-onset or limited use of gestures (e.g. showing or pointing)
  • Difficulty following an adult’s point
  • Late-onset, limited and/or absence of babbling
  • Does not appear to understand the names of familiar things (e.g. body parts or common clothing)
  • Does not use gestures, sounds or word attempts to communicate
  • Unable to follow a simple one-step direction unless accompanied by a gesture
  • Frustrated when trying to communicate (may show you frustration by temper tantrums, biting, hitting)
  • Does not appear to be reaching the appropriate milestones
  • Limited functional play skills and/or repetitive play and/or repetitive movement behaviours
  • Lack of playing with a variety of toys
  • Excessive interest in particular toys
  • Using a person’s hand as a tool
  • Any loss of any social and/or language skills


If you have noticed any of these red flags, your child may be dealing with a developmental issue as well as a language delay and will need more support.  An immediate referral to the Children’s Treatment Centre (CTC) for a developmental assessment may be required. Contact the CHEO Access Team at 613-737-2757.


Here are a few quick strategies to help your 1 year old learn to communicate:

  • Talk about what interests your baby by labeling objects, actions, and feelings.
  • Interpret your child’s sounds and gestures by putting words to them.
  • Sing songs like “Head and Shoulders” to help name body parts.
  • Look at picture books and talk about the pictures. When we talk about the pictures found in a book, we often give more language to children than what is written in the story. Also, you can watch where their eyes are looking and talk about what interests them in the picture.
  • Introduce pretend play with your child’s favourite doll or toy animal.  Include it in your conversations and your play e.g. “Rover wants to play too. Can he roll the ball with us?”
  • Check out our “Strategies” and “Learning Tools” sections for other strategies and resources!