It is incredible, but within a years time your baby will progress from random crying to talking. This is quite an achievement for your baby and in a very short period of time. In this chapter we will look at your baby’s development when it comes to language. You’ll also discover what you can expect to see every month but it’s important to remember that these stages of your baby’s development are broad and because every baby is different these are not meant as exact milestones.
One month. Your baby will be able to understand speech long before actually talking. From birth he will look at your face and listen to your voice. He may make a small range of noises that will start to mean something to you - these may be made when he experiences feelings of hunger or pain (such as crying and certain sounds while he is breathing). When your baby is eating, you may notice him making sucking type noises and sounds of contentment.The way that your baby cries is an important communication method while he is actually unable to talk. Crying lays the foundation for speech as your baby learns to control his vocal cords. Crying is also a baby’s way of indicating hunger, discontentment, or general discomfort. Through responding to this crying you let your baby know that she is important to you – and this can really be reassuring for a young infant.
Two months. As a child enters his second month he is far more aware of the world – things such as sounds, even that of your voice, will amuse and fascinate your child. Change the tone of your voice and this will keep him amused. Your baby will respond with a variety of cooing sounds, vowel-like sounds, and sometimes some consonant sounds such as a “k”. You will find that your baby has quite a collection of cooing sounds that she uses to communicate with you as well as discover how to use the sound of her own voice. During this time, try and talk with your baby – this will encourage her response and help in the development process. By looking into your baby’s eyes you are communicating an important thing to her – that you are listening. Three months. By now you will find that your baby is able to recognize your voice and may come to you or face you when your voice is heard. You may notice him laugh out aloud and may even scare himself by doing this (as he does not initially know that he is the one making the sounds). Your baby will be making sounds such as “ahhhh gooo”. He will squeal when he is happy and content, again often startling himself as he learns his own abilities. At this stage you should not only talk to your baby but also introduce other communication forms such as singing and story telling. The greater your effort in trying to talk with him, the better his response is likely to be. Four months. By now more and more communication should be taking place with your baby. You may notice a greater amount of smiling – while his babbling may have a noticeably singsong quality to it, often ranging into a high pitch that delights him as he learns to like the sound of his own voice. There will be lots of repetition to the sounds that your baby makes. It is important that you always respond to your baby’s “oohs” and “ahhs” and whatever other communication methods she is using - respond with your own voice tones. This is your chance to have a “chat time” with your baby and you should take advantage of these times – you are helping him to discover the art of conversation. There will also be certain times when your baby may also not be in the mood for talking. He will turn his head in the other direction and may put his arm over his face. He may be showing signs of anger or frustration by crying out, especially if something is taken away from him. Five months. As each month progresses you will find that your baby is becoming better at communicating. It’s possible that you will notice him imitate some sounds and gestures. By now he’ll most likely be able to let you know if he’s happy or sad. When attention is wanted your baby will babble until he is given the attention he feels he deserves. Interestingly, if you always respond to his communication efforts (whatever these may be) he’ll repeat them whenever he wants your attention this way. During this month it’s likely that your baby will be looking at your mouth moving while you talk. Talk to him from across the room and he’ll be able to find you with ease. He is learning to control his vocal sounds as he watches your response to his sounds. Six months. Your baby may now be using consonant-vowel combinations. It’s quite possible that he has discovered his mirror reflection and is probably having conversations with himself. Your baby’s language is becoming much more precise. Here are some ways that you can help your baby develop her language skills:
Speak very slowly and clearly.
Identify and point out items, objects and people as you talk about them.
Use shorter sentences sentences.
Using repetition when singing songs and nursery rhymes helps the learning process.
Reading to your baby is a good idea and should be done as often as possible – ask your baby questions and point things out to make the process as interactive as possible.
Let your baby respond in his own way when communicating with her.
Seven months. Your baby is now continuing to learn how to use his newfound language skills. He may be able to do things such as wave goodbye and may accompany his wave with babbling sounds. He can say “mama” or “dada”. Eight months. Your baby is playing games such as pat a cake and peek-a-boo. Even though he can’t speak the words that belong to these games, he can babble and talk to himself. It’s likely that your baby knows what the word “No” means by now as well. Nine to twelve months. It’s possible that by now your baby understands requests and commands such as “give it” or “don’t touch that”. Similarly, she may understand simple questions such as “where’s your rattle?” At this time you should be encouraging your baby to use gestures (and you should respond to them). For example if your baby indicates she wants to be picked up then say “you want to be picked up?” while picking her up. This helps the learning process. You should also talk about everything that you do, and use gestures (and short sentences) as you’re doing them. Here are some ways to help your baby with the learning process:
Look at books and talk about the pictures in simple languages. Where possible try and use books that your baby is able to hold.
Talk often to your baby using simple words to identify objects in his life. Name trees, numbers, colours, and animals as you take your baby for a walk. You should also use your baby’s name often – this way she will be able to recognise it.
Talk back to your child when she talks with you.
Introduce concepts to your baby, such as the “big” dog or the “little” mouse.
Give your baby time to get his words out; don’t be tempted to complete sentences for him.
Continue to read to your baby as much as possible. Reading should be part of your daily routine.
From day one start to talk in a simple, short and uncomplicated way with your baby – even though she will not understand what you are saying this is laying the foundations for learning language.
Twelve months. After one year babies are generally able to say one or two words and are able to understand 25 words or more. For example if a person in the room asks, “where is daddy?” your baby will look for you. Your baby is also able to point at things (and ask for things in this way).