When Will My Baby Talk?
Your best friend's 15-month old is already talking in sentences and it's a struggle for your 16-month old to get out a single word. Like all the rest of the developmental milestones, language is no different. There is a wide spectrum of what is typical. Some babies have several words before their first birthday, whereas others are still in the babbling stage and could stay there for a few more months.
Every child develops at his/her own pace; however, there are some things that parents and caregivers can do to maximize baby's speech and language potential. After reading this blog, you will have a good understanding of speech and language development from birth to 24 months, as well as some ideas on how to incorporate meaningful language activities at home.
0-3 Months: Vocalizations start. This is when your baby starts to "coo" and "goo". They may offer some fleeting eye contact and brief smiling. Now is a great time to set up a routine for your baby. Make eye contact with your baby and repeat the sounds they are producing - this is your baby's first conversation! Baby may not be talking yet, but they are tuning in to the sounds that are in their native language. Please talk, read, and sing to your baby throughout the day. It is also an opportune time to use the monkey mirror, so that baby can watch those lips move.
4-6 Months: Your baby is now babbling with some inflection; almost as if they were speaking a foreign language. Your baby laughs out loud and imitates some adult sounds. During feeding, your baby is moving his tongue actively. Remember, the muscles we use for feeding and swallowing are also the muscles needed for speech. Turn off the TV (what a distraction for your little language learner), get down on the floor, and play with your baby. Keep reading those favorite books, or really anything you'd like - Feel free to catch up on Better Homes and Gardens and People Magazine. Your baby just likes to hear your voice and is still experimenting with the different sounds. Take your baby for a walk and point out all of the different objects and sounds. Remember, this is all brand new for your baby.
7-9 Months: Get ready to have some real fun with social language! Your baby is using more consonants and is interactive. She loves to play peek-a-boo with you and will increase her vocal volume to get your attention. Eye contact is developing and she is now responding to your facial expressions. Play some turn-taking games with the ball and blocks in the OFY backpack. If you haven't been narrating your day since your baby's birth, please start now. Talk to your baby wherever you go (in the grocery store: "should we get the corn or the peas for dinner tonight?").
10-12 Months: Some babies at this age are producing their first words. Please do not be alarmed if your baby isn't quite there. Some babies are producing those consonant-vowel constructions like "ma" and "da". Baby is continuously imitating new sounds, and is responding to "no" (I said responding, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are always obeying). Continue to read throughout the day with your baby and add some descriptive adjectives to your baby's words. For example, if your baby says "cat" (or their unique word for cat), you can respond with "yes, I see that white cat; he is fast").
13-18 Months: Some toddlers have 20-50 words at the end of 18 months. They are also able to understand a few body parts. You can increase their language skills by giving them simple commands; e.g. "give me the ball". You can ask simple questions, such as "what/who is that?" Start describing emotions to your child; "that boy is crying, he's sad." Engage in pretend play with your child (e.g. building blanket forts in the living room, pretending to be a pirate in the backyard, walking on all fours like a zoo animal). This is an extremely fun, albeit tiring time with your toddler.
19-24 Months: Your toddler is using intonation, as well as some two word phrases; e.g. "mommy go". Continue to encourage words at this time. If they would rather point, give them the first sound of the word; e.g. "m" for "more".
By the age of 3, a non-familiar person should be able to understand 80% of what your child says. If not, please discuss this with your pediatrician. Do not wait until kindergarten to seek help; early intervention yields the best results.
Parents, please remember that this is only a guide for typical speech and language development. If you have concerns regarding your child's speech and language development, please discuss it with your pediatrician.
An excellent resource is www.cdc.gov/ActEarly
The Our First Year activity cards contain even more ideas to increase speech and language skills when combined with the developmental toys. Get your OFY backpack today...it's all in the bag.