Parenting is hard.
At every turn we are criticised of the decisions we are making:
Breast or bottle feed?
Work or stay home full time?
Private or public school?
Screen time or no screen time?
So then we start to doubt our own decision making abilities and rely on others to help us make the important decisions.
I want to make you aware of a few opinions that are not helpful or accurate from a Speech Pathology perspective:
“Just wait and see if they catch up.”
“My son didn’t talk until he was 4 and he’s fine.”
“I don’t know what you’re worried about.”
The truth is, if you have any kind of concerns about your child, you are more than entitled to pursue help for them. The research tells us that early intervention is the most effective, and children who are late to talk will most likely experience difficulties throughout the early years of schooling and beyond (if they don’t receive help in the early days).
I want you to feel confident when it comes to making decisions for your child’s communication development.
What should you be expecting your child to do?
In the first 12 months of life, you should begin to see your child develop joint attention. This is where you and your child focus on something together at the same time and share the moment together. This is a two way skill where you might look at each other for a moment and then look back at an object. It is a beautiful opportunity for connection, and a foundational skill for language development.
Between 6 and 12 months we often see gesture being used for communication e.g. lifting their arms up to be picked up, pointing or waving bye. Between 12 and 24 months we see continued use of more and more gesture including shaking/nodding their head, blowing kisses, making funny faces, or shrugging their shoulders. Research shows that young children who gesture together with words are more likely to start saying short phrases sooner.
Babbling is expected to emerge at approximately 7 months of age, but sometimes as late as 10 months. Babbling is an important step towards saying words, as it allows your child to experiment with different mouth movements and combinations.
There is huge variation between children in saying their first words. Some children will say their first word really early as a baby, whilst others will develop first words as late as 15 months. It is important to keep the next milestones in mind: by 18 months children should be saying a minimum of 5-20 words, and by 2 years children should be saying a minimum of 50 words and be saying little two-word phrases. Meeting these milestones keeps them on the right path to using language with friends and at school.
There are of course many more milestones and skills to be aware of, but these four give you an overview of the first three years of life and can help you to make decisions confidently.
An easy strategy you can use every day?
Focus on connection with your child in any way possible. Take delight in every achievement. Show interest in what they are interested in. Get down on their level when you speak to them. Through your actions, show them that you love them, respect them, and want to hear what they have to say, no matter how long it takes.
Trust your gut feelings mamas. Seek help as early as possible to gift your child with strong communication skills for life!
Alex Trichilo is an Australian Speech Pathologist who is passionate about providing parents with easy access to up-to-date accurate information. Being a mum of three kids herself, she ensures her programs are affordable, realistic and achievable for busy mums.