Worried about your baby’s speech development? Want to give your baby a jumpstart with speech development? Then, you’re in luck! Let’s review typical baby speech and language developmental milestones and 10 ways you can encourage your baby to start talking!
Baby Speech Milestones
From the moment your baby enters the world, he or she is listening to your voice. By three months of age, your baby will start vocalizing to lay the groundwork for future language development. By 24 months, your child may be able to speak 50 or more words. This is a crucial time and a great opportunity to help your baby start talking!
Be advised that the following milestones are merely guidelines for health professionals and parents to track child development. But every child develops at his or her own rate. If you are concerned about your baby’s speech development or you feel your child is falling behind on key milestones, don’t be afraid to speak to your baby’s pediatrician about your concerns.
Between three and four months your baby can:
- Smile in response to your voice and face
- Make cooing sounds
- Have different cries for different needs
Between six and seven months, your baby can:
- Make gurgling sounds
- Uses vocalizations to express joy or anger
- Move eyes to see where a sound is coming from
- Notices tone changes in your voice (example: responds by crying if you’re upset)
- Seems to listen to music
- Notices his/her toys make sound
Between 12 and 13 months your baby can:
- Imitates sound
- Says small easy words like “dada”
- Understands one-step instructions (“Come here”)
- Recognizes words for everyday objects
- Turns his/her head to respond to sound
Between 24 to 25 months your child can:
- Say simple sentences like “more please”
- Ask one to two word questions
- Follow and understand simple instructions
- Say 50 or more words
- Speech pronunciation can be understood 50% of the time by parents and caregivers
10 Ways To Help Your Child Start Talking
1. Increase opportunities for pretend play
Pretend play not only furthers your child’s imagination but also increases speech development. The imaginative play opens the door to introducing new words in response to different social situations. Until your child starts talking, you will need to participate in pretend play exercises and take the lead on many activities.
Here are some imaginative play ideas for you to try:
- Have a pretend tea party with the Queen
- Grocery shop with pretend food
- Host a pretend dinner party
- Play doctor with your child’s favorite stuffed animal
2. Ask your child to help with everyday tasks
One way to help your child start talking is to ask for help with everyday tasks. Your toddler is at the age where he or she loves to complete tasks and help you with everything. Take advantage of this by asking your child for help!
When you ask your child to help you’re increasing his or her vocabulary along with the steps involved in completing everyday tasks. Try asking your child to retrieve items from the refrigerator you need to make a meal. Not only does this give your child an early lesson in meal preparation and cooking, but will help your child identify food items.
Example: “Can you help mommy by getting the cheese?”
You may have to help your child at first and allow him or her to make a mess in the fridge, but it is well worth it when your child starts identifying and saying common food items!
3. Offer choices
Your child is his or her own individual. Therefore, offer choices for anything you can. From two snack choices to what to wear for the day. The only thing to remember is to make sure to name the items!
For instance, “Do you want string cheese or fruit snacks?”
4. Manners and greetings
Every time you interact with someone else, teach your child how to understand and use social greetings. When saying goodbye to someone look and say to your child, “Say bye-bye,” and wave. Eventually, your child will begin to imitate the gesture.
The same goes for manners. When you give your child a cup of milk, help your child say please and thank you. (“Say thank you!”).
5. Daily routine
Establishing a daily routine helps your child understand how the day’s activities are structured and what each of the activities is called. Before you know it, your child will be asking you to “brush teeth” after they wake up in the morning.
6. Sign language
I am a huge advocate for using sign language with children! It’s helped my four-year-old with autism dramatically increase his understanding and language development. For my 18-month-old, sign language has helped to give him a “voice” while still increasing the clarity of his words.
Some of the signs that are easiest to learn (and most helpful for you) include:
- Thank you
- Brush teeth
According to Parents.com, there is no scientific evidence to prove that sign language delays speech development in babies. In fact, some research points to an increase in speech development when language gestures are used by parents. It also decreases the amount of frustration a child can experience by not being able to communicate verbally.
7. Eye contact
Before talking or saying instructions to your child, make eye contact. This allows your child to focus on only you without distraction and see how you enunciate words and facial expressions to match.
8. Slow down
When your child attempts to say a new word, repeat the word slowly. This allows your child to see how your mouth moves to formulate the word. This will help further speech clarity over time.
With any word attempts, praise! And praise some more! Even if your child completely says the word wrong. Simply say “That’s right! That is a banana. Good try!”
10. Use learning apps for toddlers
An easy way to help your child start talking is with the Speech Blubs app! Kids can start using educational apps when they are around 2 years old, and it is a great alternative to passive screen time like watching TV. The Speech Blubs app combines peer video modeling to teach children new words associated with many categories like animals, shapes, and numbers. Plus, there is a built-in reward system when a child completes the task with a fun interactive learning game! You can read more Speech Blubs reviews here!
Babies develop quickly, especially in the first year. By the time your baby is 24 months old, he/she has completed plenty of speech development milestones. But don’t worry if your child is not there yet. Just start using the above 10 ways to help your baby start talking!
About the author
Liz Talton is the contributing author for the Speech Blubs blog. After her son received an Autism Spectrum Disorder evaluation, she decided to do all she can to help her little one. She is a full-time blogger, homeschooling mom, and autism advocate. Before starting a family, she received a master’s degree in forensic psychology and mental health.
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