Stage 1 Development

The first stage in a young child's life is when a child appears to be becoming more alert each day.  One parent described this stage as the time her kids started their jobs of tearing back the walls of their cocoon.

  1. Listening

    Early in Stage 1, it may seem like a child ignores sounds more than he or she listens.  But gradually, day-by-day, listening skills become a very important part of the child's daily routine.

    • Both loud and soft sounds generate a startle response. (See below for a description of the different types of startle responses.)
    • As a child starts to listen more and more each day, he or she will start to cease his or her activity to listen to sounds in the close environment.
    • When attention to sounds increases, a child will briefly stare at an object that is making a sound.
    • As a child's head control develops, he or she can be observed turning his/her head to look for sources of sounds that occur in the close environment. He or she may also change body position in order to visually search out a sound source.
    • While seated in someone's lap or in an infant seat, a child will use searching motions with his or her head to visually locate the sounds that are at his or her ear level.
  2. Responding to Voice

    During Stage 1 development, the mother's voice is usually the most important voice to the child. Other voices that are frequently in the child's environment gradually take on importance to the child. Skills at this level of development are extremely important, failure to develop skills in response to voices may indicate that a child needs to be seen for additional testing.

    • Early in Stage 1 development, the child frequently stops crying when someone speaks, even though the voice is not within the child's visual range.
    • The child can be quieted from crying when spoken to by a familiar voice, usually as much as 50% of the time.
    • The child who is in Stage 1 of development will gradually start moving his or her eyes to look directly at the speaker's face when the person speaking is near.
    • Smiling in response to a speaker's voice starts to emerge.
    • As a child's head control improves, he or she will turn in order to visually search for the person speaking.
    • Different types of voices may cause the child to use different facial expressions, especially angry voices.
  3. Vocalizing

    Early in this stage of development, crying is the predominant type of vocalization but quickly gives way to early stages of babbling.

    • A child's cries gradually begin to sound different depending on whether the child is upset, tired, hungry.
    • Children at this stage develop the ability to make sounds that are not thought of as being part of regular speech such as cooing, gurgling, snorting, squeaking, whimpering burping, sneezing and coughing.
    • Repeating sounds he or she makes starts to happen at this stage which is referred to as the babbling stage.  Sounds that are frequently repeated at this stage include some vowel sounds and consonant sounds that are made with his or her lips.
    • It is not uncommon to see a child actually smile in response to his or her own vocalizations.
    • Initially a child will stop making sounds when he or she hears someone else's voice and then later on will actually start babbling when he or she hears someone else speaking.
    • It is very common for children in the later part of Stage 1 to laugh out loud and sometimes even make squeaking and/or squealing type sounds when happy.
    • Babbling continues as the child starts using more speech sounds in his or her babbling phrases. These babbling phrases include more and more vowels and consonants.
    • A child's cries definitely carry meaning now and it is much easier to tell what the different cries mean.