Understanding the Milestone
Language and communication skills are critical to a child’s development. Good communication makes them better able to engage in socialization. When we talk about communication, we are talking about both speech which is the verbal means of communication and language which is shared rules to put words together to express thoughts and feelings. It also signifies to understand the meaning of language through both spoken and written communication.
Speech means producing the sounds that form words, which is one way to express language. It involves precisely coordinated muscle actions of the tongue, lips, jaw and vocal tract to produce the recognizable sounds that make up the language.
The first 3 years of life, when the brain is developing and maturing, is the most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills. These skills develop best in a world that is rich with sounds, sights and consistent exposure to the speech and language of others.
In the early stages of language development, the brain is programmed to attend to speech sounds and begin to mimic them. Early on babies like to make sounds up on their own. Later, they attempt to repeat sounds /words they are exposed to from their surroundings.
What & When to Expect the Milestone?
From birth, a baby makes a range of sounds and noises such as crying, coughing, burping and quiet low-pitched contented sounds. Crying is the main way of communicating.
Speech Development at different stages:
1 to 3 months: The first laugh and giggle are added to the communication during a newborn’s first month. A baby starts to imitate sounds and he practices moving his tongue.
3 to 6 months: Babies like to laugh and squeal with pleasure. Around four months a baby will start to make single sounds or repeat some sounds such as “dada, gaga”.
6 to 9 months: The baby continues to engage in babbling and tries different combinations and sequences. Babies listen attentively when spoken to and different noises are made to capture their parents’ attention.
9 to 12 months: At 9 months, babies are often fairly talented at multi-syllable babbling and use most vowels and many consonants. Strings of different syllables such as “ma-ba-da” begin to appear, and also babbling with vowels and constants like “aba”. Babies can imitate words and sounds, and the much awaited first words might appear. Babies develop improved nonverbal communication skills, and they seem to understand and interact more.
Activities & Stimulation
The more words children hear, the more words they can learn. Following are some interesting points for parents to encourage language development in their children:
Verbally respond to your baby’s vocalizations.
Talk to your baby. Repeat your baby’s attempts at words to encourage two-way conversation. Also praise your baby’s efforts to talk.
Around six months of age, use shared attention and sign language i.e. gestures. Point and name things that they see. Use overemphasized voice when you describe things.
Share songs and nursery rhymes.
Read and tell stories with your baby.
Use songs to communicate things like time to go to bed, time to clean up etc.
Make of songs that communicate affirmations related to their positive qualities.
When to Talk to a Professional?
Check out the time lines and look for delays. Also, remember that there is quite a range of time for the achievement of each milestone.
If you feel there is a delay and have concerns about your child’s language development, for example, your baby doesn’t babble or doesn’t seem to listen when others are talking, you can talk to your doctor or any Child Health professional. They can help you and your child work on many language and speech problems.