Speech and language is an essential part of any child’s development. Language development impacts your child’s social interactions, behavior and academic skills.

Early on, babies like to make sounds of their own. As they get older, they learn to mimic sounds that they hear. If you are concerned about your child’s language development, you should talk to your pediatrician.

Milestones that demonstrate normal speech development include:

AgeLanguage Level
2-3 monthsCoos in response to you, smiles
6 monthsBabbles, turns and looks at new sounds
8 monthsResponds to name, pats self in mirror
10 monthsShouts to attract attention, says a syllable repeatedly
12 monthsSays 1-2 words; recognizes name; imitates familiar sounds; points to objects
12-17 monthsUnderstands simple instructions, imitates familiar words, understands “no,” uses “mama” “dada” and a few other words
18 monthsUses 10-20 words, including names, starts to combine 2 words “all gone,” “bye-bye mama,” uses words to make wants known “up” “all done” or “more;” knows body parts
2 yearsSays 2-3 word sentences; has >50 words, asks “what’s this” and “where’s my” vocabulary is growing; identifies body parts, names pictures in book, forms some plurals by adding “s”
2 ½ yearsGives first name; calls self “me” instead of name; combines nouns and verbs; has a 450 word vocabulary; uses short sentences; matches 3-4 colors, knows big and little; likes to hear same story repeated
3 yearsCan tell a story; sentence length of 3-4 words; vocabulary of about 1000 words; knows last name, name of street, several nursery rhymes, can sing songs
4 yearsSentence length of 4-5 words; uses past tense; identifies colors, shapes; asks many questions like “why?” and “who?” Can speak of imaginary conditions “I hope” Uses following sounds correctly: b, d, f, g, h, m, n, ng, t, w, y (as in yes)

Tips for supporting your child’s speech and language development

  • Start talking to your child at birth. Even newborns benefit from hearing speech.
  • Respond to your baby’s coos and babbling.
  • Play simple games with your baby like peek-a-boo and patty-cake.
  • Talk to your child a lot. Tell them what you are doing as you do it.
  • Read books aloud. Ask a librarian for books appropriate to your child’s age. If your baby loses interest in the text, just talk about the pictures.
  • Sing to your child and provide them with music. Learning new songs helps your child learn new words, and uses memory skills, listening skills, and expression of ideas with words.
  • Use gestures along with words.
  • Don’t try to force your child to speak.
  • Expand on what your child says. (For example, if your child says, “Elmo,” you can say, “You want Elmo!”)
  • Describe for your child what they are doing, feeling and hearing in the course of the day.
  • Listen to your child. Look at them when they talk to you. Give them time to respond. (It feels like an eternity, but count to 5—or even 10—before filling the silence).
  • Encourage storytelling and sharing information.
  • Play with your child one-on-one, and talk about the toys and games you are playing.
  • Plan family trips and outings. Your new experiences give you something interesting to talk about before, during, and after the outing.
  • Look at family photos and talk about them.
  • Ask your child lots of questions.
  • Don’t criticize grammar mistakes. Instead, just model good grammar.
  • Follow your child’s lead, so you are doing activities that hold their interest as you talk.
  • Have your child play with kids whose language is a little better than theirs.

Link: https://www.mottchildren.org/posts/your-child/speech-and-language-development

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