One of the many things a baby learns in his first several years of life is how to create noises with meaning. During these years, your child will go from a baby who whimpers to a speaking, laughing and — on occasion — back-talking child. For most children, speech development is relatively simple and natural. For others, the task of acquiring these speech skills proves challenging.
A baby’s speech development begins long before he utters his first words. As MayoClinic.com reports, you can begin to see signs of speech development in your infant as early as three months after his birth. By this time, you should notice that your child is making cooing sounds, has several different cries for different needs, and recognizes the voice of caregivers. By 6 months, your child will likely be able to create repetitive nonsense sounds, like “goo goo goo,” move his eyes to look at sounds, and appreciate the fact that some toys make noise.
The majority of children utter their first identifiable words around 12 months of age, reports MayoClinic.com. Generally, these first words are simple in nature, such as “Mama” or “Dada.” During the six months between your child’s first birthday and his 18-month mark, he will likely add an array of words to his vocabulary. By this landmark date, he should be able to speak around 10 different words. By 2 years, your child will likely be able to form two-word phrases, ask questions and even say no, and mean it.
While speech development is something that occurs naturally, you can encourage it. Begin by reading to your child. By making the nighttime story a part of your evening ritual, you can both bond with your child and ensure that he receives adequate exposure to adult speech. Other enjoyable activities, such as singing with your child, or speaking directly to him, can lead to enhanced speech development.
Beware of Baby Talk
Although it may seem difficult to look at your cuddly-wuddly baby and speak to him as an adult, doing so is vital for proper speech development. If you only speak to your infant in baby talk, he will lack the speech modeling he requires to acquire speech, reports KidsHealth. While you can simplify your speech when talking to your child, you shouldn’t make up words or use nonsense phrases. Doing so makes speech development more challenging for your child.
Warning Signs of Speech Challenges
Children who fail to reach these common speech milestones may need additional help. To ensure that your child gets all the help he requires for success, watch for signs of speech development trouble. Common signs of speech challenges include failure to make gestures by 12 months of age, inability to imitate sounds or choose gestures of speech requests by 18 months of age, reports KidsHealth.