Speaking is a significant milestone in a child’s development that any mother should not joke with. Many mothers anticipate when their toddlers would start speaking, they watch out for the first word the baby would produce. This is great! But while anticipating your child speaking, there are some important things you should do as a mother.
Mothers often feel the urge to help their babies speak, they look out for what to do to encourage them. Oftentimes, you see mothers try to instigate simple and familiar words for their babies to mimic, some go to the extent of forming words from what their babies churn out unconsciously.
All these are not bad. However, before you encourage your child to speak, there are some factors you should watch out for which indicate that your baby is about to start speaking.
Here are some major pointers which can signal that your baby is about to start speaking;
- Ability to recognize or acknowledge his or her name
At this point, when you call your baby by his or her name, the baby does not necessarily have to answer to the name but the baby shows gestures or pays attention when the name is called.
- Formation of simple words
Once your baby begins to combine letters to form words, the speaking phase is at hand. The words do not have to make any sense, for example, you hear your baby producing words like “ba” “um” “ta” and many others.
- Imitation of familiar words
When a child begins to imitate words, it is a pointer that the child is about to start speaking, the imitation might not be a replica of the words produced but something close.
- Knowledge of simple commands such as ‘stop crying’, ‘stop’, ‘no’, ‘smile’ and others.
- Use of gestures to draw attention, a wave of hands, making a variety of sounds that seem like speech, among others.
As a mother, once you notice specific factors indicating that your child is about to speak, here are some ways to encourage the child to speak. It is noteworthy to state that methods that you are likely to adopt when encouraging a 6-9months old baby to speak would be a bit different from those you will adopt for a baby of 9-12months. Diverse ways to encourage your baby to speak are;
- Deliberately talk to you baby. Do not use lengthy words but short words that will trigger speech development.
- Play often with your baby, this will keep him or her in a relaxed mood to be able to listen to you speak.
- Practice talking in turns, give your baby a chance to imitate your words.
- Repeat simple words like ‘dad’ ‘mum’ ‘go’ ‘come’ ‘no.’ Let him or her repeat the words after you
- Pair the words with actions, for instance, if you say ‘sleep’, act it, ‘eat’, act it, ‘Jump’ act it.
- Point at objects and say their names.
- Give your baby toys signifying specific names.
- Have some time alone with your baby, free from interruptions and distractions.
Red flags you should watch out for if your baby’s speech production is being delayed;
- Little or no attempt to imitate sounds or words.
- Extremely quiet and doesn’t react to noises or sounds.
- Lack of interest in communication.
- Failure to respond to commands or directions such as ‘come’ ‘sit’ ‘stop’.
- Inability to produce sounds or inconsistency in producing sounds.
Once you notice these red flags and nothing seem to have changed after your attempts to encourage your child to speak, you need to see a doctor for medical counsel.