In most cases, a child will produce her first word around the time of her first birthday, but the foundation for communication comes much earlier. By about 8 months of age, a child has developed the concept of object permanence, the ability to understand that an object exists even if she can no longer see it. If you hide her toy under a blanket at this point, she will look for it. At this stage, games such as peek-a-boo reinforce this concept as well as demonstrating the turn-taking aspect of conversation.
First words tend to be nouns—people or things that are familiar. As children develop improved oral motor skills, pronunciation will become more precise. In the early stages of speaking, it is important to pay attention to the intent as much as to the production.