Learning to talk is a huge milestone for every child and an exciting time for parents and guardians. It can also be a source of frustration for children and parents when a child does not progress with language and speech.
Here are five questions for parents and guardians to ask about their children:
1. What can I do to help my child with language development?
From birth, talk face-to-face to your child so he/she can learn that words have meaning and see your lips form the words spoken. Reading to your child and singing songs increases your child’s vocabulary and memory, as well as providing a good environment for learning later on.
2. How can my child communicate before he can speak?
Initially children understand (receptive language) more words than they are able to say (expressive language). Teaching sign language at a young age can ease a child’s frustration when trying to communicate. Start with simple signs such as more, help, or all done. You can check out a book on baby signs from the library or look online for ideas.
3. How many words should my child be saying by the age of 2?
A child should be able to put two words together, i.e. “Mommy work” or “Daddy home.” In order to do this, they need a vocabulary of about 40 words. You should be concerned if your child is not making two word combinations.
4. My child has started to stutter. Should I be concerned?
Between the ages of 2 and 3, many children hesitate or repeat words when they speak. About 80 percent of children outgrow this. You should be concerned if your child stutters for 6 months or more, seems to exert physical effort to speak, or seems to be afraid to talk.
5. What can I do if my child is not talking?
Talk to your parent educator if you are enrolled in Parents as Teachers. Parent educators use an OAE machine to screen each child’s hearing to make sure there are no hearing problems that might interfere with language development. If any problems are discovered, the family will be referred to a physician.
For more on Parents as Teachers, visit parentsasteachers.org.