One of the biggest miracles of nature is how do we learn to speak. Why do some babies speak faster than others? How can, we as parents, help our babies develop their speech abilities?
Babies recognize human speech at birth. Having heard muffled voices in the womb for many months, they are able to understand the human voice. This is why they have a preference for their motherâ€™s voice.
The first sounds of an infant consist of vowels. These are common to almost all languages, so babies all around the world begin their speech with â€˜oohâ€™ and â€˜aahâ€™ sounds.
By five months of age, infants can combine vowels and consonants to produce sounds like â€˜ma ma maâ€™ and â€˜ba ba baâ€™. They keep on repeating these sounds endlessly both as an exercise of the vocal muscles as well as listening to the sounds created by them.
At 6 months, children start identifying the sounds of the language that surrounds them. Itâ€™s very important to understand that the amount and quality of the infantâ€™s babbling directly co-relates to the amount of attention parents give them.
A lack of parental care leads to less babbling. You need to have a dialogue/conversation with your baby, the more the better. Also, wait for them to respond. For e.g. – while bathing or dressing or nursing, name the objects you are using and describe the actions involved. Do so in simple words and speak
S-L-O-W-L-Y. Remember, you are laying the foundation for intelligent communication. Nobody can predict when the exact moment of understanding will come, and it most often comes as a surprise!
Usually, by the ninth or tenth month, the child discovers that meaning can be conveyed by sound. This begins by social responses such as â€˜hiâ€™ and â€˜byeâ€™ and even reacting once his/her name is called. But at this stage, he/she can understand more than he/she can convey.
By the age of 1, the child can normally speak up to 6 words. As they continue to add nouns and expressions to their vocabulary, they learn approximately 50 words between 12 to 24 months. The brain is at its peak for language development at this age.
So keep talking to your little baby – sing a song, a lullaby, narrate a story; the more the better. In my next article, I will provide you with some clues to identify speech problems and what you can do at home to help babyâ€™s language develop faster.