The provision of verbal labels enhances 12-month-old infants¿ memory flexibility across a form change in a puppet imitation task (Herbert, 2011), although the mechanisms for this effect remain unclear. Here we investigate whether verbal labels can scaffold flexible memory retrieval when task difficulty increases and consider the mechanism responsible for the effect of language cues on early memory flexibility. Twelve-month-old infants were provided with English, Chinese, or empty language cues during a difficult imitation task, a combined change in the puppet's colour and form at the test (Hayne et al., 1997). Imitation performance by infants in the English language condition only exceeded baseline performance after the 10-min delay. Thus, verbal labels facilitated flexible memory retrieval on this task. There were no correlations between infants¿ language comprehension and imitation performance. Thus, it is likely that verbal labels facilitate both attention and categorisation during encoding and retrieval.