Speech Development in the Infant and Toddler
by Debbie Reese; June 1998
SourceNPIN Parent News
ContentsMilestones in Speech Development
How Parents Can Help
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Related ArticlesQuestions and Answers about Child Language
Early Identification of Speech-Language Delays and Disorders
As children grow from infancy to toddlerhood, early childhood, and so on, parents are often keenly aware of what their child "should" be doing at any given age. One of the milestones that frequently causes parents great anxiety is the development of speech. Those initial babblings that sound like words are celebrated, but later, some parents wonder if their childs ability to talk is delayed. This article outlines important aspects of speech development.
Before entering into a discussion about milestones of speech development, it is important to note the following:
Milestones in Speech Development
At 7 days of age, an infant can distinguish her mothers voice from another womans voice.
At 2 weeks of age, an infant can distinguish her fathers voice from another mans voice.
At 3 months, an infant can make vowel sounds.
At 6 to 8 months, the infant has added a few consonant sounds to the vowel sounds, and may say "dada" or "mama," but does not yet attach them to individuals.
At a year, the infant will attach "mama" or "dada" to the right person. The infant can respond to one-step commands ("Give it to me.")
At 15 months, the infant continues to string vowel and consonant sounds together (gibberish) but may imbed real words within the gibberish. The infant may be able to say as many as ten different words.
At 18 months, a toddler can say nouns (ball, cup), names of special people, and a few action words/phrases. The infant adds gestures to her speech, and may be able to follow a two-step command ("Go to the bedroom and get the toy.")
At 2 years of age, the child can combine words, forming simple sentences like "Daddy go."
At 3 years of age, the child can use sentences two- to four-words long, follow simple instructions, and often repeat words he/she overhears in conversations.
At 4 years of age, the child can understand most sentences, understands physical relationships (on, in, under), uses sentences that are four- or five-words long, can say his/her name, age, and sex, and uses pronouns. Strangers can understand the childs spoken language.Back to the Table of Contents
How Parents Can Help
Parents can help their children develop language skills by doing the following:
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Brazelton, T. Berry. (1992). Touchpoints. Your childs emotional and behavioral development. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Shelov, Steven P. (1994). The American Academy of Pediatrics: Caring for your baby and young child.New York: Bantam Books.Back to the Table of Contents
Published monthly by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Children's Research Center, 51 Gerty Drive, Champaign, IL 61820-7469. This publication was funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract no. DERR93002007. Opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the Department of Education.
NPIN Coordinator and Parent News Editor: Anne Robertson
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