Speech and language development in babies can be highly intriguing for parents. If you are curious to understand how babies learn to talk, here is all the information you wanted to know!
Last Updated: 22 October 2020
The environment in which a baby grows has great influence in his speech development. Imagine no one ever talks around a baby from birth; the baby is likely to develop delayed or no development in speech at all. This is because babies learn to talk primarily through listening to our conversations, by observing the movements of our lips when syllables are uttered and by trying to imitate our words. Here’s more to how babies learn to talk:
In the womb
Though babies do not begin to make sounds in the womb (at least not something we can hear), speech development is believed to happen even while they are in the womb. They listen to the conversations of people around, especially the mother, and the sounds of words carry the inputs to their brain. Language processing kick starts and by birth, they are already exposed to a wealth of vocabulary in the language(s) you spoke during pregnancy.
0 to 3 months
Verbal expression in a newborn begins in the form of cry. Crying is the first mode of communication of the baby to his immediate caretakers. In the first few months, a mom can identify if the baby is crying for a feed or for a nappy change. This indicates that a baby learns patterns in communication quite earlier than actual utterance of syllables.
· Coos when alone or in response to your speech
· Makes different sounds of cry for different needs
4 to 6 months
You may assume that your baby would not comprehend anything you speak to him now. However, the fact is that he is keenly listening to every word you speak. Behind the scenes, his brain is relating the names of things to the actual things and is also making records of the most used sounds and words in his surroundings.
Reading short books of repetitive words can enhance his language development now. It is not important if he outwardly seems to pay attention to the book or the words. Early reading introduces different sounds which he will soon begin to imitate.
· Makes a lot of babbling sounds
· Brings changes in tone and voice as a means of communication
7 to 12 months
Most babies speak their first word by six months or between the seventh and ninth months. Common first words are mama, papa, or other repetitive sounds like baba or gaga. When he says ‘mama’, he may not exactly mean to address you at this stage. For most babies, it is just the easiest and familiar word to pick up.
Narrating to your baby as you go around your day’s work, like “Let me change your diaper,” or “It’s bath time,” will help him to associate actions to their respective words. It may take another few months for your baby to learn to talk the words, but eventually your everyday conversations with him will help him to grasp the pronunciations early.
· Tries to respond to you with sounds like na, ah etc.
· Speak a few words
· Identify objects when their names are mentioned, like ball, diaper etc.
13 to 24 months
In the second year, you will see that your baby learns to talk rapidly. The number of words he speaks will largely increase in the second year. Initially, he may try to say the first syllable of a word, like ‘op’ for open. It is not a thing to worry for it may take a while to gather together all the syllables in words. By 24 months, many babies learn to put two or three words together to weave meaningful sentences like, ‘I want milk.’
· Says words like bye-bye without prompting
· Speak several words
· Tries to knit words together that makes sense