Saturday, January 25, 2014

Enhancing baby speech: how to help them talk quicker and clearer

We often come across advices upon parenting, be it food habits, baby's health or even their speech, especially if they are late talkers. True it is, there are certain little facts which greatly impact baby speech, some of them are discussed below.

Be verbose

The more you talk, and the sooner you start, the better. It is a myth to think that infant do not pay attention or listen. Researchers rove that babies as young three months make a note of lip movement. The sooner you start communicating with you peanut, the quicker it is likely to be reciprocated. Speak to her while she's getting a massage from you, while taking a bath or any other time she's awake.

Social gatherings

Make an attempt to socialize as much as possible . Let the baby interact with new faces, here new pitches, observe new expressions and get used to new faces. This not only helps her learn communication styles, but also helps develop her social skills quite early. This would also help her cope better with stranger anxiety in the months to come, usually around nine months or so.

Minimise visual stimulation

Visual stimulation in the form of television should not be introduced very early, not before the age of fifteen to eighteen months. This not just delays communication, but may even reduce the attention span of the baby. Instead, audio CDs, rhymes etc would be better options to keep the baby busy for a while.

Read books

This habit goes a long way, especially when started early. It not only build their vocabulary, but even helps them make a routine. Reading a bedtime story can be started as early as one year or even before that .

Sign less

Though signing happens to be a very good medium of communication for infants, it may sometimes delay the need to speak. The baby would find it easier to get his needs fulfilled by signing rather than speaking up.

Don't baby talk

When a baby is around, we tend to baby talk. Avoid doing so. The baby imitates you. This way she would learn to talk clearer.

Note: if you have any queries please leave a comment below. To read more on baby speech and development please visit the blogger's profile.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Baby milestones made easy

Note:Any queries/questions about baby/toddler speech are welcome and can be posted in comments at the end of the blog. They will be promptly answer. Please provide email address too.

A baby's first words are much awaited by parents and dear ones. Some come up with the first words quite early, while others take time. Lets briefly define the baby speech milestones and break certain myths about them too

First Words

Let me start with this. Few facts play a major role other than his personal abilities, when it comes to speaking

- How much you speak to him
- Is he in a nuclear family setting
- Does he have toddlers around him for some time, be it in parks, day home, neighborhood
The more speak to him, the faster is his vocab is likely to grow

That apart, a baby's first word may come as early as nine months, or even as late as 16-17months sometimes. The range is quite broad. It's completely normal for a baby in a nuclear setting to speak his first word at sixteen months or so. The first word could be anything : Mama, Dada,ball,bus,this,that and so on.

The Myth: a baby MUST say either Mama or dada at twelve months of age.
Not always true. I know of a number of them who did not say either till almost fifteen months.


Way before a baby says her first word, she starts expressing her needs by " POINTING" at things she likes or wants. Pointing happens to be a very important milestone. Most start pointing anywhere between ten to fourteen months.If your baby is fifteen months plus and is not pointing yet, do mention it to your pediatrician in your next appointment.

Eye Contact

Another very important milestone, one year olds must have a good and meaningful eye contact. When I say meaningful, it typically means that when child is making eye contact, it should not be looking through you. This, however, does not mean that they will make eye contact ALL the time while interacting with you. The world is new to them and everything around is a distraction.

Putting two words together

This usually comes around two years plus minus two months. Two words like " this ball" or  " want banana" help the baby express her needs better. Again, this milestone would also depend on when the child spoke her first word. If that was say at eighteen months, this too would come a little later.

Sentences and pronouns

Once again I would like to reiterate, the more you speak, the better. We often, as parents of toddlers, tend to get into a habit of speaking in tit bits: " want this?", or "want water?" Instead of a "do you want water?"

This often curbs the need to speak in full sentences.

Pronouns come anywhere between 24 to 32 months approx. The usage may not always be correct, for instance there may occasionally be reversal of pronouns like 'I' for " you" and vice versa. But this typically corrects itself by the age of three.

Sentences start with three four words like 'want to go park' to 'want to go park with papa'.

Autism scare

You search the web for your late talker and every other search suggest autism. There are certain red flags for autism other than speech delay

-little or no eye contact
- Never responding or turning around on hearing her name. However, non autistic toddlers too may not respond to their names sometimes
- no pointing at things till almost 16 months
- no first words by 22-24 months
- lack of interest in other toddlers. However a child may sometimes be too busy to do that
- lack of interest in imaginative and interactive play


Some of these pointers mentioned below are present in non autistic toddlers too

Echolalia or repetition till almost three years of age
Pronoun reversal
Lining up toys
Lack of interest in other toddlers sometimes
No sentences till almost thirty months
Not responding to his name sometimes