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Kids and Developmental Milestones: Speech and Language Skills

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It may look silly when adults make funny faces or sounds to make a baby laugh, but it actually helps babies learn! Those silly sounds are part of vocal play, which helps babies develop their own speech skills as they mimic the people around them. Regularly reading to your child, talking to them and practicing farm sounds are great ways to promote language skills at home, and can make a huge difference in a child’s development.

All children develop at a slightly different pace. At Cone Health, we use milestones to measure average development in order to give parents an idea of what to look for in their child’s development:

  • By 12 months old, we look to see if your child can make the sound of certain consonants, including: p, b, m, t, d and n. Around this age, they should also be able to use between five to ten simple words consistently, with mama and dada being common words.
  • By 18 months, children should be able to say between 20 to 50 different words. From there, their vocabulary grows quickly and can contain hundreds of words by the time they're nearing the age of three. Children of this age should be pointing at things to show others what they're interested in.
  • It is also between 18 months and two years that children start to string words together to form sentences.

If your child isn’t talking by 18 months old, or not vocalizing very much at all, talk to your pediatrician about what you can do to help your child, and they may refer you to a specialist like Cone Health Outpatient Rehabilitation Center

Delays in speech can stem from hearing problems, and if your child has a history of ear infections and his or her language development is delayed, talk to your pediatrician about hearing screenings.

If you have any concerns about your child’s speech and language development, talk to your pediatrician so they can put you at ease or guide you to a speech and language specialist. At Cone Health’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, our specialists work with children and their parents to teach them how to overcome developmental delays.

Spokesperson Background:

Janet Rodden is a speech and language pathologist with Cone Health’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. She received a Bachelor of Science in communication in 1990 and a Master of Education in 1992 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.