Just like any other development in children, the age at which children talk or learn language vary. Some start earlier than others. Some are able to say simple words that are used around them often like “mama”, “BaBa” even before their first birthday. However, the fact that your child is not saying words by the time she/he is a year old might not necessarily be a reason for you to panic.  So how can you help your child’s speech and language development?  What are the milestones to look for in order to know when to seek help?

How Can You Help Your Child’s Speech Development?

Your involvement as a parent is very important from a very early age in helping your child’s speech or language  development:

1). Devote a lot of time to communicating with your child from a very early age. Spend time talking, singing, and encouraging the child to imitate the sounds and gestures you make.

2)Another good way of helping speech and language development is through reading age-appropriate picture books to the child from a very early age. Some even start talking to babies when they are still pregnant.  Most parents start a few weeks after birth. Read out the words in the books pointing at the pictures. You could also find books that speak when you touch the pictures. As the child gets older, encourage the child to point to the pictures and make the sounds. You can then gradually introduce interactive nursery rhymes. The type of rhymes in which the child has to repeat sounds or touch a part of the body or object.

3). Also, make conscious efforts to explain things to your child. For instance, when you are preparing food, or unpacking groceries show the different items to the child and say their names. Ask the child to repeat what you say. Gradually build up to showing the child and asking him “what is this?”

Some Speech and Development Milestones

Twelve Months

By their first birthday, most children will be cooing and babbling and saying simple words like “mama, baba”.  They are attentive to sound and recognize their names and the names of objectives that they use often like ”bottle”.

Between  Twelve and Fifteen Months

By this time, children will be able to under some simple instructions, “like sit”, “stand”, “come”, “go” “take” etc. Their babbling will also be a little more coherent as they try to imitate the words they hear.

Between Eighteen to Twenty Four Months

Some toddlers within this age range will start to combine words  like “mama coming” or “dada going.”  They will also identify objects like a ball, some parts of the body, etc. They also know the difference between some opposites like “up” and “down”. They are more ready to follow simple instructions like “put it down”,  “give it to me”  or “stop that”.

From Two to Three Years

There is usually a remarkable improvement in the number of words that a child says by this age. They should know more words than can be easily counted by age three and they should be combining words to make sentences. Most children who have been taught, can count, identify colors, etc.

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