As your baby undergoes physical, emotional, social, and communication developments, watching them allows you to witness different milestones they achieve during the development process. Talking is one such important milestone on your baby’s growth chart. Paediatricians consider speech and language development to be a significant indicator of the overall development and intellectual functioning of babies.
As parents, you have an important role to play in your baby’s speech and language development. Knowing the exact timelines of your baby’s speech development will help you monitor the process. Let us discuss what you need to know about your baby’s speech development.
At what age do babies start talking?Babies start occasionally responding to your sounds by the time they turn two months old. While they begin babbling at around four months, they start talking between twelve and eighteen months. They begin by speaking small words and forming small sentences.
What are the different milestones of speech?Speech and language milestones are an important concern for all parents, and even a little delay in this development can make you restless. The different speech milestones from two months to five years seen in babies are as follows:
- Two months: Turn their head towards a sound and gurgle or make a cooing sound.
- Four months: Begin babbling and copying the sounds they hear; make different crying sounds that may signify different causes, such as hunger and tiredness.
- Six months: Respond to sounds with a sound of their own and make vowel sounds like "aaa"
- Nine months: Start copying the gestures and sounds of others and start babbling words like mama.
- Twelve months: Sounds start resembling speech, and children use gestures like a head shake for "no"
- Eighteen months: Start speaking many single words.
- Two years: Repeat words of others and start saying three- to four-word sentences.
- Three years: Make normal conversation and start understanding the use of prepositions like ‘in’, ‘on’ and ‘at’.
- Four years: Tell stories; use grammar and sing songs; and say their name and surname.
- Five years: May tell stories and speak very clearly.
Can children have a problem if multiple languages are spoken in the family?Once your baby begins to talk, you can teach them different languages at an early age. Scientific studies show that children who are multilingual or bilingual are good at mental flexibility and in solving mental puzzles, they plan better and are good problem solvers. Research indicates that children can learn up to five different languages by the age of five. Several studies indicate that children who know more than one language can outperform monolingual children.
What can be done if I notice a delay in my baby’s talking?Every baby is different, and some babies may reach their speech milestones a little later than others. While speech is related to the sound produced, language is related to comprehension. You can encourage both speech and language development and improve oral-motor skills in your baby with the following activities:
- Build communication with your baby by talking and singing and encouraging them to imitate your sounds.
- Read to your baby from an early age.
- To help your baby develop their language and speech, talk to them about everyday matters such as grocery lists, cleaning a room, and cooking. While you are doing that, point to objects that you see around you and name them.
- Include BabyG activities for speech enhancement, such as mouth motor activities, in your baby’s daily routine.
- Make silly faces with your baby in front of a mirror or while sitting face-to-face. Your baby will have fun as well as exercise their face and tongue.
- Fun oral-motor activities such as blowing bubbles with a straw and playing games such as blow football will also help your baby’s speech development.
- Give your baby long, curly straws to drink liquids of different consistencies, e.g., milkshakes, chaas, and lassi.
- Give chewy and crunchy food to your child to improve sensory feedback.
- Teach your child to play a musical instrument that exercises the mouth muscles, e.g., the harmonica.
When should I see a doctor if my baby shows a delay in talking?If you notice any of the following symptoms, see a paediatrician immediately:
- Your baby drools or has unclear speech.
- Your baby does not babble by 9 months.
- Has slow or stagnated speech development.
- Does not speak their first words by 15 months or consistent words by 18 months.
- Fails to make word combinations by 24 months.
- There is a problem understanding the baby’s speech at 24 months, and strangers cannot understand it by 36 months.
- The child fails to show any interest in communicating with you or others.
Your paediatrician will recommend that you seek help from an audiologist and a speech therapist. The speech therapist will further carry out necessary investigations and chalk out a speech therapy programme for your baby.
In India, it is observed that there is a tendency to wait and watch, as speech delay is considered a trait in some families. However, with the help of your paediatrician, you can consult a speech therapist to investigate the reasons for the delay and get therapy at the right time. This can save your child from social and emotional problems in adulthood.
Enjoy every milestone with your baby! Seek help from your paediatrician in the event of a problem. To track all your baby’s developmental milestones on-the-go head over to your BabyG App to get complete access to 1000+ Development Activities, Milestones and Growth Reports, Meal Plans, Recipes, Bedtime Stories, Tips and a Global Community of like-minded parents.