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Children’s Language Development Milestones and When To See a Psychologist

Child's Language Development Milestones

Are you worried about your child’s language development milestones and wondering when you should see a psychologist? Child language development is a complex and multifaceted process that starts from birth and continues throughout childhood and into adulthood. Communication between child and parent starts at birth, and it can be very worrisome if your child struggle with their developmental milestones.

Here are some key milestones in children's language development:

  • Birth to 2 months: At this stage, babies are learning to recognize familiar voices and will start to coo and make gurgling sounds.
  • 2 to 6 months: Babies will begin to babble, stringing together vowel and consonant sounds. They may also start to imitate sounds they hear in their environment.
  • 6 to 9 months: Babies will start to understand and respond to simple commands and gestures, such as “wave bye-bye”. They may also start to say their first word.
  • 9 to 18 months: Children will start to say more words and will understand a growing vocabulary. They may also start to combine words to form simple phrases.
  • 18 months to 2 years: Children will continue to expand their vocabulary and will start to understand simple grammar rules. They will also start to use words to express their wants and needs.
  • 2 to 5 years: Children will continue to develop their language skills, becoming more confident in their ability to express themselves and understand others. They will also start to learn how to use language in different social contexts.

It’s important to note that every child develops at their own pace, and these milestones are simply rough guidelines. Nevertheless, language development is an important indicator of a child’s overall development, and any concerns should be discussed with a pediatrician or speech-language pathologist. 

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What if my child isn't speaking at 2 years old?

If your child is not speaking at 2 years old, it’s important to have them evaluated by your family doctor to identify any potential speech or language delays or disorders. While some children may be late bloomers and catch up to their peers, early intervention is critical in addressing any potential speech and language difficulties.

It’s also important to make sure your child’s hearing is normal, as hearing difficulties can impact language development.

If you have any concerns about your child’s speech and language development, don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s family doctor or pediatrician. They can help you determine whether your child’s speech and language skills are developing within a typical range and provide appropriate support and resources as needed.

There are many ways you can encourage your child’s language development and engage them in language-rich activities. Here are some ideas:

  1. Talk to your child: One of the simplest and most effective ways to encourage your child’s language development is to talk to them frequently. Describe what you are doing, label objects and actions, and ask questions to encourage conversation.
  2. Read together: Reading together is a great way to expose your child to new vocabulary and sentence structures, and it can also promote a love of language and reading. Choose age-appropriate books and make it an enjoyable experience by using different voices and asking questions about the story.
  3. Sing songs and nursery rhymes: Singing songs and nursery rhymes can help your child develop an ear for language and improve their memory and attention. It’s also a fun way to bond with your child. If you don’t know many songs, you can search on YouTube for videos to singalong with your child, Ms Rachel is definitely one of our favorites.
  4. Play language-rich games: Games that involve language can be a great way to encourage your child’s language development. For example, you could play “I Spy” to help your child learn new vocabulary, or play games that involve following instructions or telling stories.
  5. Provide opportunities for conversation: Encourage your child to talk about their experiences and feelings by providing opportunities for conversation. Ask open-ended questions and listen to their responses, and avoid correcting their grammar or pronunciation unless it’s necessary for comprehension.

Remember, the key to encouraging your child’s language development is to make it a fun and engaging experience. Keep in mind that every child develops at their own pace, and it’s important to celebrate your child’s progress and provide support and resources as needed.

Other possible concerns

  1. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Children with ASD may have delayed or absent speech and language development, as well as difficulty with social communication and interaction. Other signs of ASD may include repetitive behaviors, lack of eye contact, and a lack of interest in playing with others.

  2. Intellectual Disability: Children with intellectual disabilities may have delayed speech and language development, as well as other cognitive delays. Intellectual disability is typically characterized by significant limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior.

  3. Hearing Loss: Children with hearing loss may have difficulty developing speech and language skills due to an inability to hear and process sounds. Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent, and can range from mild to profound.

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It’s important to note that delayed speech and language development does not necessarily indicate the presence of a psychological disorder, and a thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional is necessary to identify any underlying causes or concerns. Early intervention is key in supporting a child’s development and addressing any potential delays or disorders. If your child has other behavioral concerns, then speaking to a psychologist could help. Psychologists are also able to help you with your parenting skills, and provide emotional support for you while you support your child.