The early months of parenthood bring so much excitement and wonder: watching your child go from cooing as a newborn to the magic moment of their first word. However, there are a few steps leading up to the first word a child will speak, and plenty you can do to improve their language skills and foster good infant education. We’re here to give you a breakdown of all of the important language milestones and help you communicate with your child.
Infant Education Milestones: Language
Before getting started, it’s vital to keep one fact in mind: every child progresses through these milestones at their own pace. Some children may have their first word at 7 months old, and others may be around 14 months old. If you’re concerned about developmental milestones, speak with your pediatrician for a check-in.
Your child’s speech patterns are going to look very different depending on what stage of language development they’re currently working through. Nevertheless, at each stage they’re communicating their emotions, wants, and needs to you as best they can.
Stage One: Early Vocalizations
Newborn babies communicate primarily through crying and vowel-focused vocalizations for the first few months of life. They start to recognize sounds around them and turn to face the voices and sounds that intrigue them.
Stage Two: Babbling
Babbling is an essential stage of infant language education. At around 6 months, children start experimenting with consonants and repetition, creating strings of “ba-ba-ba” or “da-da-da”. Easy consonants like “b” and “d” appear earlier, with harder consonants showing up a little later in the language timeline.
Stage Three: Improving Understanding
At around 9 months old, babies begin understanding more of the words you speak to them. While these are only simple and single words (like “no”), they play an essential part in the development of communication. Babies also start experimenting with vocal inflections at this stage, changing their tone of voice to match their emotions and intended message in communication.
Stage Four: Single Words
Around the 12-month mark, single words should start appearing. This will include that wonderful first word that you’ve been waiting for, and a few others besides. These words are often object words, referring to food, pets, or family members. While only single words, these carry a lot of meaning!
Stage Five: Expanding Vocabulary
From around 18 months old, babies will start to draw more and more links between words and the world around them. Animals, food, and toys can all be referred to correctly (even if the pronunciation is a little off!) and your child really starts to communicate in earnest. The combination of tone of voice, object recognition, and language development work together for your child to start making meaningful conversation and requests.
How You Can Improve Your Child’s Language Development
So, what can you do to give your child the best linguistic head start? The first step is recognizing that language development doesn’t start with your child’s first words— they’re listening and learning from you all the time! While so-called “baby-talk” is often seen as a way to interact with your child, using real language and normal vocal tones actually improves your child’s rate of language acquisition.
Listen, Repeat, Expand
Give your child the space to babble and communicate to you. Listening to them before you begin your response teaches them how to take turns in conversation and gets them used to the back and forth of communication.
Once you’ve heard them, repeat what they’ve said correctly. If your child is pointing to a dog and having trouble with pronouncing the word, respond back with: “Yes, that’s a dog.” This reinforces the connection between the word and the animal, and also creates an example of the correct pronunciation for your child to learn.
Finally, expand on what your child is speaking about. “This dog loves to go for walks!” These simple phrases help expand your child’s vocabulary and teach them about turn taking and conversation norms.
Language Development At Providence Children’s Academy
Language development plays a large role in early infant education, and at Providence Children’s Academy we want to foster that growth daily. Our curriculum expertly blends learning through both structure and play to promote cognitive development. Contact us today at 954-570-6914 to learn more about how we teach language.