Receptive language—words a child understands but doesn’t yet say—typically precedes language production by several months. At 8 months, a little one begins to understand his or her name along with such common words as “bottle,” “mama,” “dada” and “bye-bye.” “No no” and “all gone” typically are understood at about 11 months. By age 1, a child will understand more than 50 words, and that number will continue to grow dramatically month-to-month, even though that child may barely be talking. Meanwhile, the acquisition of expressive language—words a child understands and says—relates to what a child best knows and is interested in—mom and dad, for example.
A child acquires language in predictable stages. (Note: Some language-acquisition experts suggest that there are six stages (including the earliest stage of cooing). Other experts describe five stages, starting with babbling. Still others contend that there are four main stages when two multi-word stages are combined.