Babies do not pop out knowing how to talk. Language like every other part of your baby’s life is a learned process that develops overtime. For some children it develops more quickly than it does for other children and there is no set time or definite age that your baby will say his first word, or be able to hold a conversation with you.
Before entering into a discussion about milestones of speech development, it is important to remember the following:
- Children generally understand much more than they will be able to express
- Girls often develop language skills at an earlier age than boys
Speech skills may not come quickly and easily
- Just like other milestones, you can not compare your child’s speech development to that of other children
- If you suspect a problem, ask your child’s pediatrician at his next well-check.
Speech Development Milestones
It is important to remember that these things ages are averages and that some babies will reach them earlier or later than others. If your baby does not reach one of these speech milestones at the specified time it does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with your baby’s development. If you are concerned then ask your pediatrician.
One week – An infant can distinguish her mother’s voice from another woman’s voice.
Two weeks – An infant can distinguish her father’s voice from another man’s voice.
Three months – An infant can make vowel sounds.
Seven months – An infant may say “dada” or “mama,” but does not necessarily connect them to mom and dad.
One year – A baby will be able to connect “mama” or “dada” with his parents. He may be able to respond to one-step commands (“Come here.”)
15 months – A baby continues to learn a mixture of new words and new gibberish, may be able to speak a handful of words.
18 months – A toddler can say nouns (ball, bottle, and food), names, and a few action words/phrases. He may add gesture to his words, and may be able to follow a two-step command (“Go to your room and bring me a book.”)
Two years – A toddler can make simple sentences like “Hungry mama”.
Two and a half years – A child can make longer sentences, follow simple instructions, and often repeat words he/she overhears in conversations.
Three years – A child can understand most of what you tell him, and can possibly hold a conversation with you, understand direction, can say his/her name, age, and sex, and uses pronouns. Strangers will be able to understand your child.
Four years – A child will be able to understand and respond to almost everyone and everything around him whether it is you, the TV, a pet or a stranger.
How You Can Help Your Child
There are many things that parents can do to help their child develop his language skills. They are very simple things and can go a long way in being able to understand your child at a faster pace.
- Read and sing to your child beginning in pregnancy and on a daily basis after birth
- Introduce new words frequently
- Speak directly to your child giving him a chance to converse with you
- Let your child finish his thoughts and sentences before you jump into assist him.
Remember, these are just estimations of your baby’s speech development and not a calendar to go by. If you feel that your baby is behind or is not meeting developmental milestones on time be sure to ask his pediatrician at your next visit.
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