Understanding the Milestone
Most kids say their first words around the time of their first birthday. Language development really takes off as your little one approaches the second birthday. No matter when they say their first words, it’s a sure bet they are already understanding much of what is said to them before that. Also, babies give us cues to what they need through their behavior and body language.
If you look at all the parts of your baby’s body, you can see that his feet kick, his hands clasp and the expression on his face changes all the time. Your baby’s body language gives you important cues to how he’s feeling and what he needs from you.
When you can recognize and understand your baby’s unique indications, you can give your baby what he needs. It can take time and patience to work out what your baby is trying to tell you. But watching what your baby does, will help you understand baby body language and other baby cues. Then you can respond in a way that meets your baby’s needs.
What & When to Expect the Milestone?
Babies might not use words to say what they want, but they certainly have their own way of telling you what’s going on and that can be some repeated sounds or actions. As newborns, they cry, sometimes a lot. After a couple of months, babies start smiling and laughing. From about five months, they might start to chatter and babble. Adding to all these, babies speak with their bodies by pointing.
Activities & Stimulation
Your baby’s body language tells you whether she’s wide awake and ready to play, uncomfortable, fussy, hungry or at different stages of sleep. Eventually you’ll get to know these different baby cues and what they tell you about your baby’s feelings. This helps you predict your baby’s patterns.
The way you respond to your baby cues, can help settle baby into a routine. For example, whether you put baby to sleep when he’s showing tired signs or offer a feed when he’s showing feeding cues. It’s easier to build a routine if you do things in the same way most days.
Even before your baby learns to talk, he’ll experiment with sounds i.e. anything that can get a response! This includes sneezing, coughing, gagging and squealing. Later, vowel sounds begin. These noises are attempts to get your attention. The way you respond, however silly, will help your baby learn to communicate.
Your 1-year-old might be communicating with gestures such as pointing at pictures or at something he wants. Gestures will get more elaborate over this year as toddlers use them to imitate actions, express themselves and play. Gestures are an important part of language development. Make the connection between gestures and language by using a running commentary such as, “Do you want a drink?” (When your child points to the refrigerator), then wait for a response. Such behavior encourages kids to respond and participate in conversations.
By communicating back and forth with your baby, you’re also creating and sharing experiences together, which strengthens your relationship with your child.
What Not to Worry About?
It’s worth remembering that children differ in how much they communicate. The age and the pace at which a child reaches the milestone vary greatly among children. Children with more outgoing personalities might be more vocal than those who are quieter and slower to warm up. Thus, the development in an individual child must be compared with norms rather than with other individual children.
When to Talk to a Professional?
Most of the children start pointing to familiar people, objects and some body parts by 18 months. Also, they can say several words by 15-18 months of age. Don’t hesitate to report any concerns you have to your doctor, especially if you feel your child is not talking.