Know about language milestones and intervention needs, language learning in kids and language and speech development in babies.
Language Milestones And Intervention Needs
Every child has a unique language development pattern so the parents should not worry too much about their children not following the growth chart as they had expected or should not think that their child can become a child prodigy just because he achieved some language milestones quicker than what have been reflected in charts. Yet, on the other hand, child development experts emphasize the need of recognizing a handicap, autism or some other deficiency in the child as early as possible as the right intervention at an early stage can minimize its effect to a great extent and can even enable the child to live almost a normal life.
There is a wide range of individual difference in language learning and the chart only reflects what most babies do at a given age. In this article, we will discuss how to tally the child’s achievements with a growth chart without being overstressed or anxious about it and know whether your baby is normal or needs help. Here is a generic chart for ‘Infant Language Milestones’:
- 0-3 months: Infants cry, coo or gurgle. They respond to parents' voices by being quiet and looking into their eyes. They start sucking quickly or slowly in response to various sounds according to how they like it.
- 4-6 months: Babies start to babble with sounds like ‘mama’, ‘nana’, ‘dada’ or ‘gaga’. They love to use their newfound speech, turn their necks to see where the sound is coming from in its direction, respond to voices and sounds like crying if there are spoken to harshly, cooing with music and get attracted to toys that make sound such as rattles and even TV and mobiles.
- 7-12 months: Babies' babble becomes more coherent as they start making some sounds repetitively. They listen attentively when they are spoken to and start understanding some common words like ‘book’, ‘milk’, ‘bottle’ and ‘potty’ along with ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’. They can even understand simple commands like ‘come here’, ‘go’, ‘sit down’ and ‘kiss mom’. They generally say their first words when they are about a year old.
- 1-2 year old: Babies generally start saying one-word sentences at one year of age like ‘milk’, ‘book’ and ‘park’, followed by two-word sentences such as ‘go park’, ‘teddy bear’ or ‘daddy office’ when they are two year old and in the third year, they say three-word sentences such as ‘I want book’, ‘milk is hot’, ‘cookies are good’. Then, they generally start using the language properly. Toddlers also start recognizing body parts by their name and point to them along with pictures in a book. They can also follow easy commands such as ‘Kiss the aunt’, ‘Sit on the chair’ and ‘Use spoon while eating’.
However, even when babies cannot express themselves they recognize and understand certain words and know more than they can say. Thus, there is a difference between ‘receptive language’, which means understanding the words and how they are used in combination to communicate and ‘expressive language’, which means producing sounds that requires motor skills required for speech too. Thus, babies who are not still able to speak can still communicate using sign language such as ‘Stop crying’.
It is important to know whether your baby is just going to talk late or has a hearing problem or language delay. In the first six months, all children babble irrespective of the fact that they are deaf or not. However, if they are too silent and do not respond to parents’ voices that should warn you that there is some problem. Children with language and hearing disorders stop babbling instead of moving on to more complex patterns and coherent speech between 6 to 12 months. Receptive language is more important than the expressive language so a child who has not said his first word is communicating by other means such as lifting her arms to be picked up, pointing and responding to simple commands than she is probably just a late talker.
If a child is not interested in communication at all and does not try to imitate adult actions or don't make eye contact than probably it shows developmental disorder or language delay. If it is accompanied by delay in other milestones such as sitting and walking than parents need to be worried even more and seek help immediately. Children born prematurely, suffering from Down syndrome or had succumbed to meningitis are at higher risk for developmental delays and hearing, speech and language problems. In such cases, parents should immediately visit their pediatrician who can help them to find whether there is hearing loss in the child. However, infants as young as 3 months can now be fitted with hearing aids, which help them to learn language, just like normal children. Other reasons of language delay can include persistent middle-ear infections. So, parents are advised to get frequent infections evaluated.