Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Language Development

Communicating with your child starts from birth.  Although your baby cannot form words during infancy, your baby comes to recognize voices of parents and can sense emotion or tone of voice.  With this realization, many parents wonder what they can do to help their child learn how to speak.

For first time parents, it is easy to compare your child's development with other children and wonder if your child is behind.  It is important to remember that each child develops skills at different times and at different rates, however it is useful to be aware of key developmental stages.  Just because your child has not accomplished one skill within an age range does not mean the child has a disorder, but it might be something you could discuss with your child's doctor. 

By breaking language development into stages, parents can facilitate their child's language development and encourage positive language skills.  Listed below are some key developmental stages.

0-3 Months
Developmental Milestone:
  • Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)
  • Cries differently for different needs
  • Smiles when sees you
  • Attempts imitating the sounds you make

How to help you baby:
Sing and talk to your baby often, but also keep other distracting background noises (the TV, radio) to a minimum so she can hear and focus on the sounds she’s working on.

4-6 Months
Developmental Milestone:
  • Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m
  • Chuckles and laughs
  • Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
  • Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with you
How to help you baby:
When you talk to him, pause after saying something (“Would you like to play with this pretty red rattle?”) so he has a chance to respond in his own language. If he tries to make the same sound as you, repeat the word for him.

7 Months-1 Year
Developmental Milestone:
  • Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as "tata upup bibibibi"
  • Uses speech or non-crying sounds to get and keep attention
  • Uses gestures to communication (waving, holding arms to be picked up)
  • Imitates different speech sounds
  • Has one or two words (hi, dog,dada, mama) around first birthday, although sounds may not be clear
How to help you baby:
Talk her through her days: “Where did the puppy go? Oh, look, here’s the puppy on the sofa,” labeling and showing her what you’re referring to as much as possible. Use a mirror to show her who she is: “Who’s that little girl? It’s Rachel!”  Begin to label body parts (“nose,” “eyes,” “tummy,” “toes”), spend more time reading books together and talking about the pictures, and teach interactions such as waving bye-bye and blowing kisses.

This is an exciting time in your babies development, enjoy the new stages and have fun with your baby!

Resources: http://www.parenting.com/article/baby-language-development, ASHA http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/01.htm

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