Language Development and Speech Delay in Children
Mama... Dada... Babababababa!!!
They may be simple syllables but these syllables make us the happiest parents on earth! There's no denying it when our baby starts to blabber; it makes us have that jittery feeling inside that we just can't comprehend. Then we start capturing it on video just so we can share it on social media.
When dealing with babies, they can start gurgling at any time and start producing different words even at the first two months. Babies can really amaze us. They can do some things way earlier than other babies can do, but they can also do other things at a later period of time. Anyway, there are so many things we don't know about one of the biggest baby milestones which is the talking phase. Talking is far different from babbling and gurgling. But when exactly should our kids start to make conversation with other people?
Let's first talk about when do babies start to talk and what is communication to them when they are born.
Baby Talk: From Age 0 to 3 months
Communications start at such an early age and babies learn how to communicate first by crying. Crying is everything for your little one; they cry when they're hungry, when their diaper is full or when they just want your warm presence. But what we don't know is that they listen. And when we say listen, they really pay attention to sounds all around us.
By the time they turn a month old, they already know how to distinguish common syllables. And by two months of age, they can associate sounds that we speak to certain lip movements. They can already identify that 'm' is made by pursing your lips together as compared to 's' where you put your teeth together to make a sound.
Baby Talk: From Age 4 to 6 months
This is the time things begin to get exciting. From 4 months onwards, your baby begins to mimic sounds. Your little one is ready to make certain sounds like gurgling and cooing. This is the time where sounds that you make sound like words—they may not know the meaning but they know that what you’re saying is a word.
By 6 months, however, your baby can already communicate by smiling back at you or laughs at your presence. They are well-adept to cooing and laughing once you play with them. This is also a great time to start reading a book to your baby. As you say a word and point to a picture, your little tot can associate these words with a certain image.
Baby Talk: From Age 7 to 12 months
This is the time when your baby already knows his or her own name. The babbling becomes more prominent and your baby starts talking in one or two syllables. So, when does a baby start talking straight? Well, most experts consider this stage as the primary linguistic development since your baby learns how to imitate the way you talk. They can blabber whatever syllables but copy the way you act or move. So no matter what syllables they say over and over again, this is their way of trying to use their lips, their palate, and their tongue to make sounds.
They can greet others by saying 'hi' and 'bye'. They can already point to certain objects and say something close to how it sounds like 'dod' for 'dog', 'maw' for 'meow' referring to a cat, 'nummie' for 'mommy's milk' and so on. They can understand full words that you utter; they can relate words with common things they see and work with every day like a bottle, crib, bed, sleep, and certain common greetings.
Baby Talk: From Age 13 to 18 months
Speaking is slow but the sound is there. Your baby already knows what 'NO' or 'STOP' means. They know that certain intonations mean happy and some intonations mean angry. They can already respond to your reactions and your words. Your little one can already understand what commands are and respond to your requests. At this point, your little one already understands most of what you say though they cannot say it back.
This is an age where nursery rhymes are perfect for your toddler. They are absorbing everything that they hear and everything just seems to make sense even though he/ she cannot say it properly. They are already aware of basic grammar and know the difference between 'mommy ate your cookie' to 'mommy made you a cookie'.
They can already make one-worded requests like 'eat', 'play' and most especially 'no'! They are already great at saying 'No'! And it just excites us and intrigues us more and more. Experts say that our babies learn nouns first. Well, that’s because they can already associate an object to a name. Verbs can be shown but adjectives like colors and sizes are still too vague for them to understand.
The Language Explosion
Age two is known as the Terrible Two Stage. Your little ones are running around screaming and wailing in sheer laughter and joy and wrecking havoc to your home. So, make sure you childproof your entire house. When your baby is about to turn two or just turned two, he seems to have suddenly gained the tongue to speak. They can learn up to nine words a day. And to add more surprise, they can even put them together in proper grammar—of course lacking some pronouns and prepositions here and there.
This is the pinnacle of language acquisition for your child. From a slow paced syllable babbles and gurgles, your tot is already beginning to shower you with words that sound almost like what they are pointing at. They can already say 'poopie' for 'I wanna go potty', 'pay' for 'let's play', 'teehee eesh' for 'brush teeth' and so much more!
Your little one can make words or phrases to make a request or make their thoughts known to you and surprisingly, you can actually understand what they mean even without them saying it properly or in a complete and more defined speech.
Your baby begins to copy every word you say, so take this time to be a stay at home parent and learn rhymes and talk to each other. Anyway, your child learns a ton and whatever you say is gold to them. So, wording some cuss words should definitely be a BIG NO NO!
Words, Words to More Words!
When do babies first talk in phrases? On average, your little one is expected to be speaking in phrases by the time they are two and onwards. Linguistic development does not stop at this stage and your little one will advance from one worded requests to actually making phrases. They already learn how to tattletale and they also learn how to continuously speak-- even if they do stumble oftentimes in grammar, but the complete sense is there.
They are well past speaking in one or two words; they can already communicate in complete phrases that they are able to communicate well with other kids of the same age. They can already learn from each other and play well with each other with the complete understanding of what the other wants and needs—and oftentimes, they have a conflict. So that's pretty normal.
Moreover, your children already know when kids of their age are angry or happy or sad. They can relate emotions and things via complete thought and understand. It's only that their limited vocabulary cannot completely express it all. Their box is primarily empty and learning words like verbs and adjectives are already comprehensible to them. So, spend time to balance work and home and go outside with your little one. Take them somewhere fun yet educational. Go to a place where you know you can teach your child a lot of words.
Phrases to Sentences
When should kids start talking? Well, that is a pretty vague question since talking has a lot of definitions but are you asking at what age should kids start talking complete sense? Well then, you should know that by the time they turn three, they have already refined the basics speaking in sentences.
This is already a preparation time where your little one can go to preschool. They are already capable of making sentences of their own and learn new words to incorporate to make new sentences. Sentence patterns are instinctively coming out and you and your child can now have a decent conversation with each other.
Age three is the time where you can actually say that kids should start talking. The brain is already programmed for speech and communication. Your little one is already able to make requests, make commands, describe events and tell stories—in fact, tattle tale is included too. So, your secrets are not really that safe with your kids.
Language Development Delay
There are kids, however, who are delayed in speech acquisition. How would you know if your child is a late bloomer or has a speech disability? Well, start first with doing s couple of home tests of your own. Here are some things you could do to rule out a language problem:
Hearing test. One of the ways to see what's affecting your child's delayed speech progress is by knowing if they have trouble in hearing. This can easily be noticed at home. If your child responds slowly or not at all to sounds, then you should have your little one checked out.
Gestures no sound. If your toddler is only copying movements and gestures by the time he/ she is 18 months old, then there is a possibility of language delay. Your child prefers to point, wave or copy some movements—like repetitively putting the hand over the mouth indicating 'hungry'. But if your child keeps copying the way your lips move but only produces nasal sounds or sounds that cannot be associated with word formation, you may opt to have your child checked.
Lack of verbal imitation. By 18 to 20 months, toddlers already know what sounds are and what words are. One of the ways to know if your child is a late bloomer or one who has a language impairment, then you should try and do oral exercises like making sounds—animal sounds, musical tones and such.
Only produces sounds. If you notice that your little one often mouths or copies the way you speak but can only make out some unusual sounds or some sort of wailing, this is a sign that you need to take into big consideration. You need to have your little one checked because the possibility that your child has a language disability is there.
Physical Impairment. There are some instances where physical impairment like having a short frenulum (fold underneath the tongue), tongue-tie or ankyloglossia, a deformity in the palate or the lips can impair speech significantly.
A communication disorder is not a major thing to be so concerned about. It requires a bit more patience and a lot of positive encouragement from dad and mom. If you suspect that your child is a bit too late, it is better to rule out a speech impairment rather than thinking that your child is a late bloomer.
Late bloomers can be assisted but when babies talk way later than normal, you may need to find the help of a Speech Pathologist. They will assess if your child is just a late bloomer. They can let you know and understand child’s receptive language (what your little one understands) and expressive language (what your child can say). They will also be able to help guide your child in learning how to speak and recommend other means of communication.
REMEMBER: Speech delay, language impairment or any problems in your baby learning how to talk is only a disability if you make it be. Be positive and always find that this hurdle is just a hurdle and not a dead end.
What's next in line?
Now that your kids can talk or communicate, what's next? What comes after when babies start talking? Well, there are plenty more steps to go from there. There are instances when talking becomes a rant, so how would you deal with your kid if he or she talks back?
Talking or speaking is not just limited to words but the entire concept of communicating. So, when babies start talking or none at all, communication doesn't stop there. Kids are like sponges who learn with great speed and it doesn't take long for you and your little one develop your own personal touch in communicating.
Once your child learns how to communicate, it is all uphill from then on! When kids learn to speak or communicate, they already have the world in their hands! Be patient and be encouraging, teach your kids how language is supposed to be used—with respect to others!