My Baby Isn't Talking. Should I Worry?
You have no doubt heard that each child is unique and will talk in their own time and they will be fine. And yes, that is usually true. However, with that being said, some children do require the intervention of a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and generally speaking, the earlier, the better.
But how does one know when it is time to make a visit to the SLP? The first year of your baby's life is filled with many visits to the pediatrician. In addition to monitoring your baby's weight, nutrition, and illnesses, they will also monitor their motor, speech, language, and cognitive development. Your pediatrician has probably asked their fair share of questions, such as: When did your baby start to roll over, is she sitting up on her own, is he pulling up to stand, is she making eye contact? These are, in fact, loaded questions. The pediatrician is depending on you to answer honestly to see if your child is meeting those developmental milestones appropriately.
So what about speech and language development. If babies usually utter their first words at a year old, why should we be concerned with speech development prior to 12 months of age? Speech and language development encompass far more than just the ability for a child to verbally state his wants and needs. From birth to approximately three months, a baby is starting to recognize your voice, making a few sounds, and may even be smiling. By six months, babies are looking toward sounds, babbling, and giggling (much to our delight)! By one year of age, developmentally, babies should understand several words, respond to their name, point, use gestures (bye, patty cake, kisses), and may even say a few words.
If your baby is doing none or only a few of these, you may want to bring it up at the next visit to the pediatrician. Far too many parents are using the "wait and see" method. This method wastes precious time that could be used to get your child on track developmentally much sooner. It is also easier to make those neural connections in the brain when the child is younger, as opposed to waiting until they are in kindergarten to correct their unintelligible speech.
Many states have government funding for early intervention, where parents would not even have to pay for an evaluation. In Georgia, we have Babies Can't Wait, which serves ages birth to three. Child Find is available from age three until the the child is enrolled in kindergarten - this is at the County level. Please do not wait until your child is in kindergarten to get the help they need now. The earlier they have therapy, the more confident they will be in kindergarten, as they will be on par with their peers and will not have to be taken out of class for speech therapy.
Start working on your child's speech and language skills today by removing the tablets, phones, and television, and replacing them with some of the developmentally appropriate toys in the OFY backpack. For more information regarding speech and language skills, check out the American Speech and Hearing Association website (ASHA).
FIf your baby is not doing any or only a few of these, you may want to bring it up at the next visit to the pediatrician. F