Interacting socially forms the base of your child’s language development. More simply put, this means that the more you and others talk to your baby, the quicker he will understand and learn the words. But take heed, if you are going to use baby talk to him, then that’s the first language he’ll learn, only to have to relearn proper words later.
However, if you notice he is not showing any awareness of conversation around him or even surrounding sounds, music or the noise of moving toys then you may have to consider he could have a speech problem or a hearing impairment.
Zero to six
For healthy babies from birth to around six months your baby should be making babbling sounds, probably in an attempt to imitate your speech. That’s why it is so important to keep talking to him, even during every day, mundane routines like bathing him and dressing him. A healthy baby will be listening to everything you say, even though he does not understand what you are saying at this stage.
Six to nine
From six months to around nine months your youngster will respond by looking at you when you call his name. He will also recognise certain regular sounds you make, such as clapping your hands, and he will try to imitate these gestures and sounds.
The one year mark
Usually around the age of 12 months your baby will be attempting to say his first words and these will more than likely be “dada” and “mama”.
Encouraging him to sing along with you to musical nursery rhyms will also greatly encourage his speech.
Twelve to eighteen months
From 12 to 18 months your toddler will really start coming into his own speech-wise. He will be able to identify and point to certain things like mommy, daddy, mouth, ears and the like.
By 18 months it’s as if his hearing and understanding are on red alert, with a blast of words he has heard and remembered. He should have no problem stringing two words together such as “come mommy” or “go sleep”.
One to two years
Between now and 24 months he will become quite animated with his gestures and some words he has learnt, he will wave hello or goodbye, play peek-a-boo, blow kisses and start to identify colours. The more animated you are in your conversations with him the more fun he will have and therefore his wish to learn through participation will increase.
If you’ve been reading to him and showing him the pictures in books he will be able to identify much more, such as “the cow moos” and “the dog says woof woof”. And it’s never too early to let your youngster experience the joy of books!
The first three years are generally known to be highly significant in a child’s speech development so your active role is vital.
Simple techniques to encourage him
Remember the simple techniques of reading with your child, speaking clearly to him and listening just as clearly when he talks so he won’t give up, thinking you don’t care. If it is possible, join a play group where there are other children his age as this will also have a positive impact on your baby’s confidence to start talking.