Learning language
What should you expect when your baby starts to talk?
The race is on. ‘Mama’, ‘Papa’ and ‘Omie’ are all hanging on the baby’s every babbled syllable, hoping to hear their name.
But what can you expect from your child when it comes to language development? And what if there are three languages being used in the house?

Some of the speech milestones you can expect are:
  • 7 months - blows wetly with the mouth
  • 9 months – babbles loudly and understands simple words
  • 15 months – speechs a few words meaningfully
  • 18 months – uses 6 to 20 words and understands many more
Always remember that milestones are just a guide, and that children develop at many different rates. There’s a story (probably apocryphal) that Einstein never spoke until he was 3, when he said: ‘The potatoes are cold.’ His mother asked why he had never spoken before and he said: ‘Up to now, everything was to my satisfaction!’

My older son, at 11 months, used to point at things and go ‘Uh?’ We assumed he was asking for them to be handed to him. Only after telling him 100 times we couldn’t give him a bird or the fridge did we realise he was asking us to name things for him.

More about language

Here are some other interesting snippets about language acquisition. Click on the link for a more indepth Parent24 story.

Children of diabetic moms need more help

A study showed that infants of diabetic mothers scored markedly lower on most tests of "expressive" language. Mom's level of education modulated the effects on language impairment, the researchers found, with children of mothers with no high school diploma more adversely affected by gestational diabetes.

If introducing a second language, start young

Research indicates that when it comes to learning a new language, younger kids manage much more effortlessly than older ones.

Your child needs a learning language

Learning a number of languages at a young age is fine, but according to developmental expert Dr Melodie de Jager: Your little one needs to develop a language of learning (one language) to progress well at school.

The first word might not be ‘dada’

'Michael's first word was "wors". He loved "droewors" and had a stick everyday since he started teething. He was 8 months when he said it the first time.' Caz

What were your child’s first words?

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