Sometimes the world of parenting can feel like a competitive sport. Parents love bragging about their kids, specifically when they hit certain milestones early. It starts off with simple things like holding up their heads and rolling, continues as parents try to encourage their babies to take their first steps before their first birthday and never really stops. If your child is not one that hits a milestone early, it can leave you wondering if something is wrong. This is especially true when it comes to talking because it’s the foundation for so many other milestones, and you want to make sure that if there is something wrong, that you are as proactive as possible when it comes to getting your child help.
While it is true that every child is different and therefore will hit milestones at different times, it’s important to know what the path to speech should look like for your child, the age ranges at which you can expect your child to hit certain speech milestones and signs and cues that will let you know when to be concerned.
When Should My Child's First Word Happen?
From birth, your baby is learning the rules of engagement as it relates to speech and these lessons will eventually bring them to being the little people that you can actually hold conversations with. You can expect to hear your baby’s first gibberish around the 4 to 6-month mark, but this talk won’t be much more complex than your standard goo- goo-gaa-gaas. Nonetheless, as a parent who is only used to hearing crying as a form of communication from your child, these babblings are sure to delight you and get you excited for their first real words. Between 13 and 24 months is when you will really start to see growth in your child’s language skills but these words will be limited to the basics; words like mama, dada and eat.
Stringing First Words Into Sentences
Before you know it, those one-word sentences will soon become two words sentences or maybe even longer strings of words depending on your child. At this age, their words might not be entirely clear, and you may be the only person that understands your child, but their speaking will be far more complex than the baby babble that initially got you excited.
Between the ages of 2 and 3 is when most parents find themselves astounded by their child’s vocabulary. They’ll say things that you didn’t even know they could pronounce and be able to hold a simple conversation with you. The majority of children will reach these milestones around the same time, but of course, there will always be outliers. You may have a 2-year old that can rationalize and comprehend at the level of a 3-year-old, or maybe you have a child that doesn’t seem to be hitting any of these milestones, and it’s got you worried.
When Should I Be Worried About Their Speech?
Difficulty learning language is more common than you may think, and roughly 10% of children struggle when it comes to mastering speech. The reasons that your child has trouble vary and can include issues with hearing, a learning disability or a mental disorder.
If your child isn’t developing at a normal pace, you can start looking for signs to determine if there is a bigger issue at hand as early as birth. If your newborn doesn’t startle when they hear a loud sound, this could be a sign that they have an issue with hearing.
As your baby gets older, you should notice them start to follow you with their eyes as you speak. If your baby doesn’t do this, it may also allude to an issue with hearing. If your baby is not babbling by the age of 6 months, this could be one of the first verbal cues that you get that your baby’s speech may be delayed. While the number of words that a kid says can vary by age, if your child hasn’t said any words by 19 months, this could be a sign of a delay as well.
Finally, if by the age of 2.5, your child isn’t able to put two or more words together, you may want to raise the issue with your doctor.
Talking To Your Doctor About Your Child's Vocabulary
When evaluating whether or not your child is talking enough for their age, it’s important to remember that every child develops at their own pace. Comparing your child to other children and their development to the development of other children, including siblings, is not a fair way to assess whether or not your child is meeting their speech milestones. If your child is moving at the right pace for speaking, but not moving as fast as you’d like them to, keep in mind that children reach their milestones when they’re ready and trying to force them to do so before they’re ready, will only lead to frustration on both ends.
Finally, as a parent, it’s vital that you don’t get too far ahead of yourself and panic if your gut does tell you that there may be something wrong and that intervention is needed. Take the necessary steps needed to get your child the help that they need and try to take it day by day as you work towards getting your child on the right track.