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When Do Children Start Talking?

Instructor: Gaines Arnold
This lesson looks at when children start talking with relation to what the progression of speech is for a child, what milestones they have to reach, when the average child begins to speak and what problems can occur to delay the speech of a child.

Waiting for the Word

Like most parents, Jim and Candy couldn't wait to hear Jimmie's first words. He had learned to walk right on time and had hit other milestones (the average age at which a child is able to perform a particular skill) either early or right on time. So they knew he was due to start speaking any day now. They paid attention to every sound and asked each other whether that was a word or not. They made a bet on what the first word would be and they made sure that the babysitter had her phone ready to record any word. It was an obsession that most parents go through at a similar stage of child development.

Yes, Crying is Talking

When they are born, babies only have one means of communication…crying. They cry because neither the brain nor the vocal mechanisms have developed to the point that they can make coherent words. Over time, parents may notice a variance in the type of cry depending on what their baby wants. Jim and Candy said a high-pitched cry was for changing and a cooing cry was the beginnings of 'I'm hungry.' Whether this is real or not, as a baby matures, they will begin to put more actual thought into how they communicate.

You Have to Babble Before You can Talk

Crying leads to babbling. Jimmie began to cry the moment he left the womb, but he didn't start experimenting with sounds until he was about four months old. At first he repeated hard consonant sounds such as 'p', 'm' and 'b'. He would sit playing with a ray of dust-filled sunshine repeating 'buh, buh' to himself.

Typically children will start to experiment with sounds early on in their development. Little screeches and laughs come prior to four months. But babies begin rudimentary babbling when they are about four months old. These hard consonant sounds are easy to make because they only take compressed lips and an expulsion of air. When the baby finds that they can make these sounds, they start to repeat them often and try to make new sounds.

It is a good idea to engage your child and help them discover new sounds and new words. Jim and Candy played the 'I've got your nose' game with Jimmie and would repeat the names of different parts of the body, objects Jimmie was familiar with (like his bottle) and repeat the sounds that he made back to him. These games parents naturally play with their children are actually very helpful as a child is learning to talk. They allow babble to increase in complexity, which it has to do for the baby to form words.

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