How and when do children start talking?

The first 3 years of the child’s life are the most important for language development and represent the period in which they begin and learn to speak .

How do children learn to speak?

Children learn to speak by watching, listening and responding to the people around them. They are surrounded by a thousand stimuli and absorb information at every moment.

In the first months, the child listens to the voice of mom and dad or in any case of the people who live around him daily, and tries to repeat the same sounds that adults make.

When you answer him and try to “converse” with him, the child will consequently feel further encouraged and stimulated to continue his communicative experiments. And so as he grows up he will learn new sounds, new syllables and words.

How can I tell if my child is learning to speak on schedule?

There are some basic stages of language development, common to most children and serve to understand if the child is learning to speak on schedule.

By the end of 3 months the baby is able to:

  • Smile when he sees you
  • Making sounds
  • Calm down or smile when you talk to him
  • Recognize your voice
  • Crying differently for different needs

 By the end of six months , the child is able to:

  • Make gurgling sounds when playing with you or being alone
  • Mumble and make a variety of sounds
  • Using his voice to express pleasure and displeasure
  • Move your eyes in the direction of the sounds
  • Respond to changes in the tone of your voice
  • Recognize that some toys make sounds
  • Pay attention to the music
  • Repeating sounds like “la, la”, “ba, ba” or “da, da” ( bawling ). It also starts copying some of the sounds and gestures you make. These syllables do not yet have a meaning for the child , he simply listens and enjoys himself when he hears him making sounds. The surrounding environment that stimulates him is essential to favor the increase and variety of syllables he can pronounce.

At 8-9 months it could create sequences of longer and more varied sounds, in fact we speak of Varied Babbling .

At 9-12 months, the transition from unintentional Communication to intentional communication begins . The child becomes aware of his ability to communicate with others and also of the consequences of his behavior on the people around him.

By 12 months the child is able to:

  • Imitate speech sounds
  • Speak certain words, such as “papa”, “mama” and “uh-oh”
  • Understanding simple instructions, such as “Come here”
  • Recognize words for common objects, such as “shoe”
  • Turn around and look in the direction of sounds
  • By the  first year of age, the child is able to say a few simple words.

At the age of 18 months , the child is able to 

  • Speak many words.
  • Recognize the names of familiar people, objects and body parts
  • Follow simple directions accompanied by gestures

By the end of  24 months , your child is able to:

  • Use simple phrases, such as “more milk”, “enough mom”
  • Asking one- to two-word questions, such as “are you leaving?”
  • Follow simple commands and understand simple questions
  • Speak more than 50 words
  • Speak well enough to be understood at least half of the time by you or others

If my child is not speaking on schedule?

If you think your child has some language problems, talk to your pediatrician, who will eventually be able to send you to a specialist for advice.

There are several situations that can cause a delay in speaking. For example:

  • hearing problems
  • Problems with tongue movement or palate
  • Problem related to the brain area responsible for language

The best way to help your child who has a language delay is to deal with the problem early. With early treatment, there is a good chance that your child’s language ability may improve

How can I help my child start talking?

  1. First talk to him, since he’s in the belly tags. From birth keep doing it, talk to him, tell him stories, sing songs with him. All of this will help your baby learn to make sounds and communicate.
  2. Respond with words to your baby’s sounds. For example, if the child points to a banana and says “ee – ee” you answer him with “Do you want to eat the banana?”. This way it will start to associate the correct name and sound to things.
  3. Along with your voice, also use hand signals and gestures to help him understand what you are saying.
  4. Talk to your baby throughout the day. While you are on a walk, for example, or while you are shopping with him: always name things and describe what you are doing.
  5. Always answer your child’s questions because getting answers is very important to him.
  6. Don’t make the mistake of speaking in children’s language (the so-called ” bimbese “), but always and only use real words.
  7. Read him fairy tales, every day from 6 months of age, but also from before if you want.
  8. Listening to adults read aloud helps children learn sounds. Reading can also help you understand the language and learn new words.
  9. Choose children’s books with bright colors and simple stories tags. Texts that contain numbers, the letters of the alphabet, shapes and rhymes are also fine.
  10. To get your child more involved, point to the pictures and name the things depicted, and then ask the child to point to the objects represented on the page. As he grows older you can ask him questions about the story.

This interaction stimulates the child to learn. Never forget to encourage him and give him confidence in what he does or learns to do.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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