That first word from your baby’s tiny mouth takes away all the pains of your sleepless night. There is no word that can describe the euphoria you feel when your baby recognizes you and for the first time says mamma. It’s a milestone that feels like magic. However these days many kids suffer from speech disorder/delay. Lot of parents have plenty of questions about their child’s developing speech skills. Like when do babies utter their first word? When can they hold a conversation? My son is 3 and still not talking!! My 22 month old only saying a few words!! The child speaks less!!
When do babies start talking?
As like other milestones, the age at which baby’s start talking words or sentences may vary. Some start saying words at 9 month while other may start at 1 year. Babies generally archive About 50% of the speech development at around 2 year of age and 75% by 3 years. Following are the milestone that demonstrates normal speech development:
Birth to 6 months:
A child starts his/ her life with a cry which is a non-verbal communication, and with time starts coos in response to you or your smile. At 4 months your baby will like to babble or even copy your sounds. The sound of cries changes for different needs whether the baby is crying out of hunger or in pain.
6 to 12 months:
From 6 months onward the baby try to communicate by action or gestures. Starts recognizing their name, turns and looks at new sounds. Till 12 months baby start making sounds like ma-ma-ma-ma or ba-ba-ba-ba and other similar long sounds. They start talking gibberish like sssbi, ebeedu to participate in conversation. He or she may start to combine his talking with gestures such as pointing to what he or she wants, shaking his or her head to mean ‘no’ or waving ‘bye bye’. In some cases babies start to say proper one words like mama, baba, papa etc. or try to repeat the words he/ she hears from you.
12 to 18 months:
At this age, babies start to follow instructions and understand far more words than he/she can speak. At around this age, the Baby starts to recognize common objects like bottles, cups and plates. Body parts like nose, tummy, ears and mouth etc. also their belongings like recognizing their toys . You will notice your child learning new words every day such as ‘mummy, daddy, ball, teddy, biscuit’, depending on which words he hears often. However, the pronunciation may not be very clear at this stage. As you introduce alphabets to them they try to pronounce them, though not in order but as they want to rhyme it, like abcd, nkipl , lmnop.
18 months to 2 year:
Most of the toddlers will start making short sentences like I want that, mummy come here, I need milk. Sounds and words will be copied more accurately. Also, kids start enjoying rhymes by trying to repeat the lines or actions. By the end of 2nd year your baby may recognize about 200 words and try to make sentences with those words.
2 to 3 year:
The vocabulary keeps on growing. Their speech become more clear or you should be able to understand 75% of what your toddler says. This is the stage where they can tell you about their needs like water, milk or food, also they tell you if they need to go to the toilet. Generally pre-school begins at this age and kids are ready to learn numbers, colours and alphabets.
3 to 5 years:
Their vocabulary reaches upto 500 words. Now they are ready for a simple question and are more expressive through their words. They can tell a short story or if you ask what you did today at school? they should be able to tell you in small sentences. Being correctly using plurals, pronouns and propositions. By the end of 5 year usually, they can carry on conversion.
Speech disorder and delay
Language development of the child is an important aspect of a child’s overall growth and development. But speech and language problems are the most common developmental delay a child faces. Similarly, The speech development of a child means verbal expression or the way words are spoken. Whereas the language development of the child refers to a broader concept of expressing, receiving and comprehending information.
Causes of speech disorder/delay
- Learning disability
- Exposure to more than one language
- Premature birth
- Brain injury or trauma
- Hearing loss
- Apraxia of speech, a disorder where a child faces difficulty sequencing and executing words
In case a child does not show any of the above mentioned speech development on time, consult with an occupational therapist, social worker, speech-language pathologist or an audiologist. In addition, use the tips and remedies mentioned below.
Tips to improve speech disorder/ delay
- Spend a lot of time communicating with your baby. Sing a song or rhyme and encourage imitation of sound and gesture.
- Talk slowly and clearly. Use simple and short sentences.
- Read stories to your child daily. Encourage them to talk to you about the plot and characters, ask them how they think a character could behave, let them ask questions whenever they feel like they’re simply learning how to express themselves.
- Don’t miss any opportunity and use everyday situations to create communication. Keep on telling the name of different objects around the house.
- Explain what you are doing as you are cooking, dish washing or cleaning or engage them by saying let’s do this or that.
- If you are not watching the television, turn it off. The excess background noise can cause delays in the formation of words
- Let the child lead the conversation.
- Ask a lot of daily questions and give time to your child to answer questions.
- Give lots of praise and positive reinforcement while also correcting, instead of criticizing the child for not saying the word properly.
- Encourage you baby to use straw for drinking or just to blow air through it. This helps the child to develop the oral muscles used for speech.
7 Foods to manage speech disorder/delay
Without the brain, there would be no language. The human brain has a few areas that are specific to language processing and production. Adding foods that support brain development can help to improve language development.
All the nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew, peanuts and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E and help in boosting memory. They are also antioxidants which protect against cell damage. Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and are a valuable substance for brain function, memory and thinking abilities. This fatty acid also encourages cognitive functions. (best nuts for protein)
Apart from nuts, seeds like flax, chia, melon, sesame and pumpkins also contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin E that protect the brain from free radical damage. Sunflower seeds impact overall mood and mental processing powers and therefore it is considered a brain boosting snack. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, copper, and much higher in zinc than other seeds, which help in increasing concentration and memory. One of the easiest to feed brain boosting foods for kids.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS:
Multiple studies have shown the link between low omega 3 fatty acids and poor development, ADHD, speech delay, poor focus and concentration. These healthy fats are crucial for the brain development and helps to manage speech disorder and delay in kids. ( What are some home benefits of omega 3?)
Pure cocoa powder (unsweetened) contains brain boosting components as it is packed with a large number of antioxidants molecules, the main is epicatechin helpful to improve cognition and speech impairment in studies. Hence cocoa powder is also an important brain development food for children. (More benefits of cocoa powder)
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. It is known to reduce anxiety and stress. Moreover, it increases acetylcholine levels which support better memory, mental focus and intelligence. Ashwagandha also improves communication between nerve cells and stimulates the body’s capacity to heal any nervous system damage.
Brahmi is a superfood for the brain and is believed to sharpen the brain by protecting cells and increasing chemicals associated with learning and memory. It has shown to improve spatial learning and retaining power in kids. That is why in older times, kids were often given Brahmi powder with ghee/honey. This would increase their focus and attention while keeping them calm and distressed.
Shankhapushpi is a traditional remedy for increasing the functioning of the brain. The powerful antioxidants and flavonoids present in it improve the memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Since it is a brain tonic and stimulator, people taking shankhapushpi have improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities.
SCIENTIFICALLY proven studies conducted by NIH
There are many researches by NIH that support the benefits of Ayurvedic herbs in kid’s brain and speech development. Few are as below.
Dyslexia is one of the commonest learning disability. It is defined as a disorder where a child, inspite of all the classroom teaching, is not able to attain the language skills of reading, writing and spelling according to their level of intelligence. The review indicates the Ayurvedic herbs like Brahmi, Shankhapushpi and Ashwagandha, have the potential to provide a significant improvement in children suffering from dyslexia.
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