Top Tips: Child Language Development

August 10, 2013 Published by

Children develop language skills throughout their childhood.

In their first 12 months, babies develop fundamental skills that are needed for speech and language development.  Language development supports a child’s ability to communicate, express and understand feelings but also aids thinking, problem solving, and enables children to develop and maintain relationships.

Language acquisition happens in stages.  When babies are born, they can already respond to the rhythm of language.  They recognize stress, pace, and the rise and fall of pitch and learn sucking reflexes early on which aid early communication from about three months old.

As early as four months, infants can distinguish between language sounds and other noises, like the difference between being spoken to and a clap.

By about six months, babies can begin to “babble” and “coo” this is the first sign that the baby is learning language.

At around eight months old babies have boundary recognition, this is where babies can recognize groups of sounds and can distinguish one group of sounds from another.  They may recognize these individual sound groups as words but may no necessarily know what they mean.

It is not until about 12 months old that meanings are attached to these words and a vocabulary is built and new words are continuously mimicked.

Whether or not speech comes before thought or though before speech is yet to have a definite answer and with hypothesis and studies supporting both ends of the argument.  It is important to choose toys that provoke both thought and aid the development of vocabulary.

Top tips on how to stimulate language development.

  • Talk to your baby and treat them as a talker: Assume your baby is talking back to you when they make sounds and babbles.  Babies will recognize the need for turn taking even if they cannot respond with words.
  • Respond to gestures and words. As your baby grows up and starts to use gestures and words, respond to their attempts to communicate.  For example, if your child shakes their head, treat that behaviour as if they are saying ‘no’.
  • Introduce new words. It is important for children to be continually exposed to lots of different words in lots of different contexts.  This helps them learn the meaning and function of words in their world.
  • Repeat and build on what your child says. For example, if he says, ‘Apple,’ you can say, ‘Do you want an apple? Here’s a red apple.”

Top toys for your child’s language development

  • Peppa Pig Fun Phonics – Let Peppa Pig teach your child about words and letters with this Fun Phonics Board.
  • Bananagrams help increase you child’s vocabulary as well as supporting literacy skills
  • Pass the Bomb Junior assists language development and encourages turn taking and verbal fluency


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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer

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