Learning to talk
Around one year babies begin to understand that certain sounds have certain meanings, and begin to use their first words.
- Their words may not be exactly as you say them, so repeat the word correctly. This will help them learn.
- All toddlers go through a stage of pointing to objects they want. Don’t question them, but say the word clearly to describe what they are pointing to. Repeat a word (e.g. juice) in three different sentences. e.g. Mummy will give you the juice. The juice is in the fridge. Mummy will put the juice in a cup.
Around two years they start to use two-word sentences. Gradually increase their vocabulary by adding another word when they’ve learnt the first, e.g. orange juice, and repeat the words in different sentences.
By three years they are speaking clearly enough to be understood by strangers.
By five years they should have sufficient language to talk about everyday activities.
Tips for speech development:
- Use simple words and language.
- Talk about household activities.
- Repeat familiar words at every opportunity. Speak slowly and clearly.
- Give an example, but don’t push your child to repeat a word correctly.
- Praise the child when they say a word clearly.
- If by 12 months they don’t say “ma-ma, da-da” and make lots of different sounds, chuckle and screech.
- If by 18 months they only point at objects and don’t use six clear words to indicate their needs or describe things.
- If by 2 they don’t have at least 20 clear words and are unable to follow simple instructions.
- If by 3 their language is hard to understand by other people.
- Ask your Child Health Nurse to check your child. She may refer to a speech pathologist and/or refer him for a hearing test.
- Your baby may have had a hearing test soon after birth. Even though they passed that test, this does not mean they cannot develop a hearing problem later.