From the moment your child is born, you wonder what is going on inside his or her mind. The first few months you’re just guessing what this cry or that whimper means. Soon you hear “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba” coming through the baby monitor in the morning. And then one day, seemingly out of the clear blue sky, baby speaks. It’s like a small miracle, to finally hear what your baby is thinking about in a way you can understand.
Language is a magical thing. So how is it that babies go from cries, grunts and coos to stringing together their own unique thoughts into sentences? Take a look!
From birth to three months
During this time, babies listen to your voice, coo and gurgle. They try to make similar sounds, but they’re a little way off from creating actual words. You can help your baby learn language during this time by talking and singing to him or her or talking to others with your baby around. Take some time without any background noise each day so that baby can learn to babble and play quietly.
From three to six months
Baby is still mainly observing language and trying to imitate sounds at this point. You can help your baby learn language during this time by holding your baby close when you talk so that he or she can see your face. When your baby babbles or if your baby makes the same sounds you make, repeat those sounds back.
From six to nine months
Babies begin to play with sounds and babble. This babbling can sound like words, like “dada” or “mama.” They begin to understand inflection in your voice, so they may smile when they hear a happy voice or cry or look unhappy if they hear an angry voice. Help baby learn language at this age by playing peek-a-book or pat-a-cake. Tell your baby what different things are when you’re looking around the room. When you offer a toy, say “ball” or “bear” so baby can begin to associate words with their meanings.
From nine to twelve months
Babies can understand more words than they can vocalize at this point. Baby will start to communicate with you in other non-verbal ways. Baby may point to a toy when he or she wants to play or raise hands to be picked up. If you ask your baby where’s daddy, he or she may look or point at daddy. You can help your baby learn language at this stage by teaching how to wave bye-bye and asking where objects are and then pointing to them and naming them.
From twelve to fifteen months
Babies start to use several words at this time and can usually understand about 25 words. They are more adept at non-verbal communication, too, as they can ask for just about anything they want by pointing, gesturing, reaching and grabbing for things. You can help reinforce your child’s growing vocabulary by repeating words back to him or her. You can also help by explaining everyday tasks like, “Now we are going to put on your socks. Socks go on your feet.”
From fifteen months to two years
Toddlers can put words together into phrases and follow simple directions during this time. He or she will want to play pretend during this time, and that will help language skills grow. You can help your child learn language now by asking your child for to help you do simple tasks, teaching nursery rhymes and songs, reading to your child and encouraging your child to talk to family and friends.
Before long, you could have a regular chatter box! You will wonder where the days went when you had to guess what was on your child’s mind. You won’t have to wonder too much, once your child gets on a verbal roll.
If you have questions about your child’s speech development, contact your child’s teacher. The staff at Sparkles! is always here to help.