Table of contents:
- How should speech development be by age
- How to encourage your baby to talk
- When to consult the pediatrician
The beginning of speech depends on each baby, there is no right age to start talking. It can be considered that the baby starts to "talk" from birth, in which he emits sounds as a way of communicating with parents or close people and, as the months go by, communication improves until, around 9 months, manages to put together simple sounds and begins to emit different sounds such as “mamamama”, “bababababa” or “dadadadada”.
However, around 12 months, the baby starts to make more sounds and tries to say the words that parents or close people speak the most, at 2 years old repeats the words he hears and says simple sentences with 2 or 4 words and at age 3 he can speak more complex information such as his age and gender.
In some cases the baby's speech may take longer to develop, especially when the baby's speech is not stimulated or due to a he alth problem such as deafness or autism. In these cases, it is important to understand the reason for the baby not talking, going to the pediatrician for an assessment of development and language.
How should speech development be by age
A baby's speech development is a slow process that improves as the baby grows and develops:
At 3 months
At 3 months of age, crying is the baby's main form of communication, and he cries differently for different reasons. In addition, he begins to pay attention to the sounds he hears and to pay more attention to them. Understand what a baby's cry can mean.
Between 4 and 6 months
At around 4 months the baby starts babbling and at 6 months he responds with small sounds like “ah”, “eh”, “oh” when he hears his name or someone speaks to him and starts making sounds with “m” and “b”.
Between 7 and 9 months
At 9 months the baby understands the word “no”, makes sounds by putting together several syllables such as “mamamama” or “babababa” and tries to imitate the sounds that other people make.
Between 10 and 12 months
The baby, around 12 months, can understand simple commands like “give” or “bye”, makes speech-like sounds, says “mama”, “daddy” and makes exclamations like “uh-oh !” and tries to repeat the words it hears.
Between 13 and 18 months
Between 13 and 18 months the baby improves his language, he can use between 6 and 26 simple words, however he understands many more words and starts to say “no” nodding his head. When he can't say what he wants, he points to show and manages to show him or a puppet where the eyes, nose or mouth are.
Between 19 and 24 months
At around 24 months, he is able to say his first name and can put two or more words together, making simple and short sentences and knows the names of people close to him.In addition, he starts talking to himself while playing, repeats words he has heard other people speak, and points to objects or images when he hears their sounds.
At 3 years old
At 3 years old he says his name, if it is a boy or a girl, his age, he says the name of the most common things in everyday life and understands more complex words like “inside”, “under” or "on top". Around the age of 3, the child begins to have a larger vocabulary, can speak the name of the friend, uses two or three sentences in a conversation and begins to use words referring to the person such as "I", "me", "we" or " you”.
How to encourage your baby to talk
Although there are some speech development milestones, it is important to remember that each baby has its own developmental pace, and it is important that parents know how to respect it.
Still, parents can help their child's speech development, through some strategies such as:
- At 3 months: interacting with the baby through speech and mime, imitating the sound of some objects or the baby's sound, listening to music with him, singing or dancing in a gentle rhythm with the baby in the lap or playing games, such as hide and seek and find the face;
- At 6 months: encourage baby to make new sounds, point to new things and say their names, repeat the sounds baby makes, saying the name correct of things or read to him;
- At 9 months: call the object by name, make jokes saying “now it’s my turn” and “now it’s your turn”, talk about the name of things when he point or describe what he catches, such as “blue round ball”;
- At 12 months: when the child wants something, verbalize the request, even if you know what he wants, read it with him and, in response to less good behaviors, say “no” firmly;
- At 18 months: ask the child to observe and describe the parts of the body or what he is seeing, encourage him to dance and sing the songs he likes, use words that describe feelings and emotions, such as “I am happy” or “I am sad”, and use simple, clear phrases and questions.
- At 24 months: encourage the child, on the positive side and never as a criticism, saying the words correctly like “car” instead of “expensive” or asking for help in small tasks and say what you're doing, like "let's tidy up the toys";
- At 3 years old: ask the child to tell a story or tell what they did before, encourage imagination or encourage the child to look at a doll and say if they are sad or happy. At the age of 3, the “why” phase usually begins and it is important for parents to be calm and respond to the child so that they are not afraid to ask new questions.
At all stages it is important to use correct language with the child, avoiding diminutives or wrong words, such as “duck” instead of “shoe” or “au au” instead of “dog”. These behaviors stimulate the baby's speech, making language development proceed normally and, in some cases, even earlier.
In addition to language, it is important to know how to stimulate all of the baby's developmental milestones, such as sitting, crawling or walking. Watch the video to learn what your baby does at each stage and how you can help him develop faster:
When to consult the pediatrician
It is important to have regular consultations with the pediatrician throughout the baby's development, however some situations need special attention, such as:
- At 6 months: baby does not try to make sounds, does not make vowel sounds (“ah”, “eh”, “oh”), does not respond to name or any sound or does not make eye contact;
- At 9 months: the baby does not react to sounds, does not respond when his name is called, or does not babble simple words such as “mama”, “dada” or “dada”;
- At 12 months: cannot speak simple words like “mama” or “papa” or does not respond when someone talks to him;
- At 18 months: does not imitate other people, does not learn new words, cannot speak at least 6 words, does not respond spontaneously or is not interested in surroundings;
- At 24 months: does not try to imitate actions or words, does not understand what is being said, does not follow simple instructions, does not speak words understandably or just repeats the same sounds and words;
- At 3 years old: does not use phrases to talk to other people and only points or uses short words, not understanding simple instructions.
These signs may mean that the baby's speech is not developing normally and, in these cases, the pediatrician should advise the parents to consult a speech therapist so that the baby's speech is stimulated.