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Ask The Expert – Rebecca Nelson, RLMC M.A.,CCC-SLP

When should my child start communicating?

Communication development starts not with words but with gestures and sounds.  From birth to three months, children communicate by smiling at a familiar voice or face and by changing their cries for different needs such as discomfort, hunger, or tiredness.  They also start to use cooing, which are vocalizations made up of various vowels.

At four to six months, children will start to use speech-like babbling such as ma, pa, and ba.  Babbling and cooing are used while playing alone or with others.  You will also start to see laughing or giggling develop at this age.

From seven to twelve months, children start to babble long strings of sounds and imitate different speech sounds.  Sounds and gestures will start to be combined to get attention.  You will see children shaking their heads for no, reaching for “up”, and waving goodbye.  At around twelve months, children will start to say their first word, even if the sounds that make up that word may not be clear.

From one to two years, children will start to produce words with the following sounds: p, b, m, h, and w. They will start to label pictures in books and combine two words. They should have a vocabulary of over 50 words by 24 months.  Children will also start to ask “wh” questions.

These milestones should be used a general guide.  Children can develop speech and language at their own rate, just as they do in other areas of development such as walking or feeding.  Participating in language rich activities such as reading, singing, and playing with your child will help facilitate language growth at home.  If you are concerned about your child’s speech or language development, talk with your child’s primary care provider about a referral to see a speech language pathologist.

For more information on how our Therapy & Wellness team can assist your family please call: 218.283.5420


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