Parents Can Help Babies Speak First Words

Filed under: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies, Resources

babies first words

They'll be texting before you know it. Credit: Corbis.

Children typically say their first word at 9 or 10 months, but it's not uncommon for children to be closer to 1 before they start talking.

If you have concerns about the way your child's language is progressing, discuss it with your pediatrician, recommends Rebecca Resnik, a child psychologist in Chantilly, Va. Often, the doctor will find fluid in the child's ear or some other problem related to hearing, she tells ParentDish.

If the doctor has concerns, he or she will likely refer you to a specialist. Most communities have specialized professionals who offer early intervention services for kids before they start school, she says
"Getting kids early is so much better," Resnik says.

When evaluating your child, the doctor will consider more than whether he or she is speaking, Dr. Lisa Asta, a pediatrician from Walnut Creek, Calif., tells ParentDish.

Pediatricians look to see whether kids are understanding what's said to them, if they are trying to communicate non-verbally and what sounds they are making, she adds.

"If children don't point at things; don't try to get you involved," she tells ParentDish, "that's worrisome."

Asta says she usually advises parents to encourage talking by not anticipating their child's every need.

"Avoid meeting their needs before the children can identify it," she says.

Asta offers the following tips for helping kids talk:

  • Make children communicate with you when they want something. Do not serve them breakfast or put on their shoes until they communicate that they want those things -- either verbally or with pointing.
  • If your child always points at what he or she wants, pretend to misunderstand for 15 or 20 seconds. Then use the word of what the child wants in a sentence. Say something such as, "You want your teddy bear," and then hand over the bear.
  • Talk conversationally to your child, pausing to allow time for response.
  • Regularly read to your children.
  • Point to objects in books and name them.
  • Don't use baby talk.
  • Speak slowly and clearly to the child.
  • Talk to your child about what you are doing and use related vocabulary words.
  • Praise kids for attempts at speech. Smile and nod while they try and talk.
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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.