Understanding the Milestone
The capacity to communicate is the ability and desire to connect with others by exchanging ideas and feelings, both verbally and non-verbally. Babies communicate from birth, through sounds (crying, cooing), facial expressions (eye contact, smiling) and gestures/body movements.
Children’s communication skills grow by leaps and bounds across the first few years of life.
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. Your child should be able to respond to simple commands and should be fully aware of the names of familiar objects and family members.
Also, talking with your baby or toddler can help his language and communication development. The more you talk with your baby or toddler, the better.
This is because parents who talk a lot to their young children use lots of different sounds and words. When children hear more words, it helps to improve their understanding of language, and increases the number and variety of words that they can understand and use.
And it’s not just about better language skills. Talking with babies helps their brains develop and can help children do better at school when they’re older.
What & When to Expect the Milestone?
Learning to understand what others are saying and doing starts before your baby is born. In the beginning, he won’t know the meaning of the words you use, but he’ll recognize and be calmed by your voice.
When your baby reaches nine months old, he will recognize and respond to his own name.
When your baby is about 12 months to 15 months old, he’ll understand simple requests, such as “stop”, “give it to daddy”, or “come here”.
By the time your baby is 18 months old, your baby will also use gestures with words and sounds to show you what he wants. And he’ll be able to follow more simple instructions.
Activities & Stimulation
Here are some ideas which can help your baby develop communication skills:
Respond to your baby’s gestures, looks and sounds: When he puts his arms out to you, pick him up, kiss him and use simple words. “You want up.” When he gazes at you, make eye contact and talk with him. These immediate responses tell your baby that his communications are important and effective. This will encourage him to continue to develop these skills.
Talk with and listen to your child: When you talk with your baby, give him time to respond. Talking with your child helps him see himself as a good communicator and motivate him to keep developing these skills.
Help children build on their language skills
Respect and recognize your child’s feelings: Children are far more likely to share their ideas and feelings if they know they won’t be judged, teased, or criticized. You can empathize with a child’s experience, yet disagree with his behavior.
Read together: Cuddle together for quiet times with a book. Encourage your baby to turn the pages and to point to what he sees. Let your child choose the books. The more interest he has in the book, the more attentive and enjoyable your time together will be. And reading with your child teaches more than literacy and language skills.
Make your requests clear, simple and appropriate for your child’s age and ability: For a 1-year old, you can give one step direction like, ‘Go, get the ball.’ For an 18-month old, you can give two step commands like, ‘Please go to your room and get your shoes.’
- Be a good role model: Your child is watching you very carefully. If you talk to others with kindness and respect, he will likely follow your lead and take on your manner & tone as he becomes more verbal.
When to Talk to a Professional?
If your child seems to have problems understanding simple directions and suggestions by the time he’s three years old, talk to your doctor.