Speech Development Milestones

Speech and Language Development Milestones

What are the major language and speech development milestones and how do I easily identify them?

Well, we can go into all sort of technical detail about the milestones, but let's rather focus our attention on the easy, practical things we can see and that forms part of our normal day-to-day lives.

Easily Identifiable Speech Development Milestones

You will quickly recognize your baby's first language - a cry - this comes long before smiles and words. These early cries are reactions to circumstances - cries of pain, of hunger, thirst, fear of a sudden noise and all the rest. This is your baby's basic way of communicating with you for the first few weeks.

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After this the baby will be able to focus his eyesight better and will begin to recognize family members, first of all his parents and then the wider family, and so will emerge that first smile - often in response to a smile from a carer.

At about the same time babbling begins.

This isn't in response to adult language, but is the baby's own way of sorting out all the possible sounds he is capable of. So parents will hear 'Co,co,co,', 'Kah, Kah Kah' and all the rest. Most carers will respond in a positive way - this is interpreted by them as the beginnings of communication and speech.

It is possible that 'Dada' and 'Mama' are uttered just by chance, but when the baby gets a positive response each time, he learns to use these sounds. This can really be said to be the beginnings of true speech as opposed to just communication.

You will be aware that your baby is maturing. His size is increasing, but also he is learning to control movement - to reach out and to put things in his mouth. He learns to control his mouth in order to cope with various foods and to swallow them instead of them dribbling out.

This control means that he can articulate sounds better too as he learns to control his airflow. When other words come, they will be indistinct at first - only recognizable perhaps to the most doting parent or grandparent. But as carers repeat correctly the sounds a child is trying to articulate gradually sounds become clearer.

At about a year old most children will be able to say at least one word clearly. Next comes the joining together of words - in twos at first - 'Good dog'.

You will notice lots of new words - perhaps as many as twenty words a month.

But your child will obviously be able to understand more than he says. If you say 'Pick up the teddy' he will do this long before he can say 'Pick up'. So he understands verbs, but may not use them yet.

The next stage is the questioning stage  - 'What's that? , Why' How? This is a very easy stage to recognize as a child's curiosity is such a strong force as he seeks to make sense of the world around him.

This can get quite wearing if you are the person who has to answer all the questions J But I would say be grateful that your child is curious and is capable of asking those interminable questions, though when there are twenty questions in as many minutes it is hard to keep answering.

He is also able by this time to follow directions - 'Fetch me your shoes' or 'Put on your hat'. Gradually your child will be able to follow more complicated directions - do this first and then that. 'Put on your socks and then go and get your boots.'

He can give opinions - 'I like that' or 'I want the blue one'. Long conversations become possible with adults that he knows, and whether or not you agree, he will do his own thing.

Your child will still have lots of new things and words to learn, but he should have, by 4 or 5 years old, all the tools he needs to communicate in life.

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