Published: 01/10/2015 - Updated: 08/07/2018
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Are you a mother and don’t know why your child still hasn’t said his first words? Don’t worry, not all children develop the same. Family environment, the voices they hear, stimulation from the parents, and their emotional states affects each child differently.
If your child doesn’t say mommy or daddy, remember that before pronouncing or making word sounds, they’re learning the rules of language, observing adults, watching how we communicate. That’s why, according to researchers, it is important that you don’t stop talking to your child, not only to motivate them to learn by imitation, but to also raise their intelligence quotient.
It is normal to hear babbling during this stage, which is exciting. You might hear your baby call you mommy or daddy, others start by saying ta-ta or te-ta. A-ya. This is because they’re starting to play with their tongues, imitating the sounds they hear in their environments. However, it still isn’t proven that they say mommy or daddy because they know that they are referring to their parents.
They have fun using their tongue, raising it to their teeth, their lips, touching the roof of their mouth. This is the time you should start talking with them more frequently, looking at their eyes, singing, pronouncing words well and vocalizing.
Six to nine months
In this period, they are better babbling experts. Te-ta, e-to, a-ta, mi-mi begin to take on tones and sounds that are very similar to those that adults make. You could stimulate their speech even more by reading a story to them. They will definitely smile at you, a sign that they are trying to understand you.
From 12 to 24 months
From one year of age onward, your baby will use more words and will know what they want to achieve through talking. They will already make voice inflections that sound like questions, ask you to carry them, to get your attention or that you hand them something they’re interested in. Specialists advise that you always stimulate their speech, and prevent them from asking for everything with signs. They will slowly begin to better understand the value and strength of communicating by voice.
Once your baby has reached 24 months, it’s likely that they will pronounce words and will easily be able to construct sentences like “I want ball”, “go to park”, “I’m thirsty”. It is important that you celebrate every new word and correct pronunciation. You shouldn’t be too strict in wanting them to speak perfectly.
When to worry
If your baby stops babbling around 6 or 7 months, or if they still haven’t emitted any sounds by that age, you should take them to the pediatrician. Generally, late speech is related to ear conditions.
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Early detection of auditory problems is crucial in order to be able to offer your child appropriate treatment that stimulates language development. There are even medical organizations that recommend performing auditory tests on children at one month of age.
Autism is another disease that could cause your child not to speak, in spite of their age, or to emit understandable words.
If they don’t babble, or try to signal what they want, or if they only say phrases of up to two words at 24 months, it’s best to take them to a specialist.
How to motivate your baby
As mentioned before, each child accomplishes things differently and gradually, according to different developmental factors. However, the stimulation they receive at home from the people around them plays a vital role in this development.
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What you should do is talk to them whenever you are with them, as much as you can. When they ask you for something, when they sign for something, whenever they babble at all, repeat it and say what it should be. Researchers agree that signaling in this fashion will not only help them have a much richer vocabulary, but it will help raise their intelligence quotient, in comparison to other children their age.
Talk to them whenever you change their diaper, whenever you bathe them, when you look at them. You could sing to them, which makes learning more fun. Read them stories not only to go to sleep, but to find a relaxing moment. Around five months they will be very ready to watch your lips, see how you vocalize things and they will want to imitate and will try to respond to you.
Although you shouldn’t use overly pretentious and complicated words, you also shouldn’t use “baby talk“, cutting words or changing one letter for another, etc. Remember, they will only speak well, if you speak to them well.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 08/07/2018
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