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Baby’s First Words
Keep your face close and make good eye contact as you talk and play peek-a-boo games, point and name things in books or when you are out and about. Baby will watch your face and mouth closely and begin to understand the importance of the sounds long before being able to copy them. As in other development areas, language skills progress at different rates, but here are a few guidelines…
At around 8 months, baby
- Will watch your mouth intently as you talk
- May turn in response to his or her name
- Can make different voice pitches, tones and inflections
- May begin making ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ sounds to get your attention.
At around 12 months, baby
- Will begin using consonant sounds in ‘babble words’
- Will clearly be trying to ‘talk’ to you when you are playing or ‘chatting’ together – watch carefully for signs of trying to communicate, and respond quickly and enthusiastically.
- May combine hand gestures, sounds, and a short word to indicate what he or she wants
- May well have mastered ‘no’ as a word – though not necessarily its actual meaning
- Will understand many words, but be unable to say them – possibly leading to frustration, so try very hard to interpret baby’s efforts to communicate.
At around 18 months, baby
- May have a vocabulary of 12 or more words
- Will be able to imitate new words and animal sounds well.
At around 24 months, baby
- Will put a few words together in short sentences
- Will be using verbs (doing words) as well as nouns (naming words)
- May be ‘reading’ as he or she looks at familiar books
- May get quite frustrated – understanding so much, yet unable to speak as fluently as she or he wants to.
Do your best to encourage baby’s speech development, but don’t get stressed about it. If your baby seems to be progressing at a roughly similar rate to other babies you know of the same age, all will be well. If you feel that his or her speech development seems to be falling behind, do consult your baby’s doctor, who will refer you to experts for help.
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