This is the third part of the supporting development for months 4-7 series. read about gross movement and fine movement.
In the first two months, the child’s primary language is crying! He uses this to inform you of hunger, tiredness or any discomfort. By the end of the second month/beginning third month however, the child will start cooing. Cooing sounds are vowel sounds like “aaaa”, “oooo” etc. After this stage and around 5-6 months and after a couple of months of watching your mouth speak to him, he will progress to his first syllable which will now include consonant sounds. So sounds like “ma… ma…”, “da… da…”, “pa… pa…”, “ne… ne…”. Sorry to disappoint you but he is probably not calling you even though it will sound like “mama” and “papa” and “dada”but just following the normal language development process.
You can support the proper development of language at this stage by:
Checking the child’s hearing. Call his name or make sounds like clapping or ringing a bell from another side of the room and see if he turns or reacts to the source of the sound. Children that are born with normal hearing sometimes develop problems due to colds or infections so it is important to check frequently in order to catch any problems early.
Continuing to talk and read to the child. You will notice the child pays more attention and even stares at your face and your mouth when you are speaking. It’s like they just realized the sound they hear is made by the movement of one’s lips and they are trying to figure out how it works so they stare at your mouth trying to figure it out. Give them opportunities to do this by talking to them. Even though they are not able to produce the language, they are absorbing it and building in inside. So tell them what you are doing to them. Explain things to them. Speak correctly and intelligently. Sing songs or recite rhymes that have repetitions. Just talk, read and sing! Remember to make eye contact, smile and use the proper expressions when speaking to the child. See the pictures below. It is usually after this stage of staring at the mouth that they produce the first syllabic sound I mentioned earlier i.e. “ma” or “ba” or “pa” etc.
Repeating the sounds they make. When they coo or babble, listen, pay attention and acknowledge or repeat the sound. This tells them you are listening and models conversations. It is important to start from now to let the child know that you care about what they say and that they can always talk to you.
Remove obstacles. Pacifiers have become so popular that they make a lot of “baby’s essentials lists”. I’m not sure why people find them so useful but they are obstacles to the proper development of language. It is hard to coo, babble or speak when you constantly have something stuck in your mouth especially at an age when you can’t remove it yourself. Please avoid or at least minimize the use of pacifiers.
Again, while the child is not speaking at this stage, the brain is making a lot of connections by figuring out how language works, how to form words, repeating sounds etc. Taking the few steps discussed goes a long way in supporting your child’s development. Speech and spoken language is a big part of how we express ourselves and is an important part of our identity so it is really important to support the proper development in the child.
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