Speech in the First Year

A child needs enough (but not too much) of quality stimuli for a proper healthy development. The most important factors for the development of proper speech are our voice, our speech, a warm approach, positive feedback, a calm environment and a feeling of security.

 

Every healthy child wants to talk. We lead by example and he will try to imitate us. That’s why we should talk to our children as much as possible. Our voice should be calm, warm and distinctive; with a natural intonation. An infant doesn’t care what we are saying, but how we are saying. He perceives our intonation, pace, timbre, the strength of our voice and rhythm.

 

Your Voice is the Most Important For Your Child´s Speech

The essential factor for the development of speech is the perception of rhythm. We should talk rhythmically to our child, read him rhymes and just overall make our words rhythmical. Don’t think about how good or bad your voice is, just try to be imaginative.

We should talk rhythmically and melodically during everyday activities such as bathing, dressing, while on a walk, while holding the baby, etc. It should be a regular, rhythmical ascending and descending of our voice on 2 or 3 tones (For example: Just-in is play-ing with his te-ddy bear).

We often talk rhythmically and melodically naturally without even realizing it. This is very important and that’s why a child should hear melodious speech as much as possible. Gradually, we should include children’s songs and rhymes.

Try not to replace your own voice with professional recordings of actors or singers. Our voice is the most important for our child and no other voice can replace it.

Background sounds

In order for the child to be able to recognize and differentiate the quality of sounds, it’s also necessary to offer him a quiet and calm environment. We adults often don’t even notice background sounds, but for children it’s harmful if the TV or music are on all the time.

 

Breastfeeding as practice

The muscles of the mouth that we need in order to articulate, primarily serve for sucking and swallowing purposes, the basis is quality muscle coordination. The main way for an infant to train this coordination is by eating.

At first, its breastfeeding, which is very important for an overall development of a child in many ways.  Later it’s chewing, biting and drinking out of a cup. In order for a child to correctly use his mouth muscles, he has to experiment with them and discover them. That’s why it’s only natural, that he sticks his fingers and other object into his mouth. We should let our child do that, but ensure it is safe and hygienic.

 

Pacifier

If you give your child a pacifier, try to give it to him as little as possible. A long-term use of a pacifier can have an effect on jaw development and it prevents the child from talking. An active, satisfied, or a sleeping baby does not need a pacifier.

When a child starts teething, we should start using a special toothbrush for toddlers. This way, we help our child develop proper hygienic habits.

 

Toys

For the sake of a full psychomotor development of a child, its necessary to get him appropriate toys. They should help him further develop his senses – touch, hearing, sight, smell and taste (whistling toys, rattles, bath toys, colored wooden blocks, buckets, balls, rings on a rod, cloth toys, simple picture folding books, etc.)

We should be picky and prefer toys from quality materials – definitely put quality before price. Toys could also be everyday things that children see „in action“: a mug, a spoon, a box, a comb, etc. In these cases, make sure your child doesn’t hurt himself or break the object he is playing with.

 

Love is number one

If we want to develop proper speech in our child, we should talk to him a lot, appeal to his senses, sing to him, play with him, read books with him and help him discover the world around him. We help him make the most of his own potential.

We give him a chance to learn the basics of correct and content- rich speech. But even the best material equipment can’t replace an emotionally warm and loving environment.

Only such environment, where the child will feel loved and protected, will give him an opportunity to develop his abilities and his speech.  

 

Speaking is Hard Work

Speaking is hard work – motivate your child! Child starts to speak about the 12th month of life. At first it uses one word or often one syllable expression that is relevant to current situation (bye bye, wee) or particular person (mo mo, da da, na na) or animal sounds (like woof, meow…) or thing (neee nooh, brrrum).

 

These expressions are not just names they can also represent full sentences or they are relevant to situation in context where the meaning isn’t certain. When a child says “ brrum” it can mean “look I have a car” or “ I see that a car is passing” or “are we going in a car” or “ I can hear a car” or similar.

Interjection

Common things in child speech are interjection words used instead of verbs. So “hop”- to jump, to throw; “hammy” – to eat, I am hungry; “bye” – see you later, to leave etc. The way we respond, repeat or finish the sentence we show positive feedback to the child. It enables it to expand its own vocabulary. A sentence will develop by linking words together like “dada brrum bye bye, momma hammy…”

 

Vocabulary

Firstly a child puts words in order by their meaning and emphasis or following our example. Because it is difficult to pronounce more syllable word it adapts words to its ability and shorten them or makes own kinds. It learns to recognise words like mine, my it will see the difference between I and you. It is able to respond correctly to yes or no. The vocabulary expands due to the incentive of the environment and mutual communication.  If we talk with our children a lot and encourage our child ‘talking appetite’ it will have a vocabulary of about 400 words about the 3rd year of its life. It is only for orientation, each child have different ability.

 

Childs development

Child’s development is a complex issue. All abilities are interlinked and follow each other. Independent walking and better dexterity has effects on the progress of its brain ability and vice versa. Between the first and the second year the locomotion develops significantly.  Because child is more active it expands its surrounding and have more opportunities to expand own ability.

 

Hearing

To progress in speech it is important to have good hearing. A child has to learn to make differences between variety of sounds and pronunciation of various letters. This skill is called phonematic differentiation and it is decisive in the correct pronunciation. Any kind of hearing impediment gives child a disadvantage. The development of a speech with hearing defect is impaired and it needs specialised care from early stages of life.

 

Sight

Also sight can affect the speech development. Child carefully watches our lips and tries to imitate the movement in pronunciation. It is important for a child not just hearing but also seeing their opponent. Between the second and the third year of life a child is equipped enough to progress well in correct forms and content. Vocabulary is active and passive according to experience and impulses from its environment and it expands and develops progressively. The child practices the pronunciation of syllables from our phonematic system. Three year old is able to use speech as a communication tool, for covering its needs, to fit in its surrounding and of course to please its ancestors. The communication is for the child a necessity but also for fun and entertainment.

 

Environment

Each child is unique and it carries specific equipment of abilities. It is surrounded by loved ones with similar manners. speaking is hard workThat is why the development of each child carries the specific marks typical for its family that differ from others. Development of a child is subtle and continuous. Each child progresses in its abilities systematically step by step. Some children’s development can progress in leaps. A period of fast learning can be suddenly changed to a period of stagnation. But the development happens no matter what; it is harmonic and direct in all areas. Third group of children whose development is uneven, for example a child is more mature in some areas but slower in others, special care should be taken to “tune up” the complexity of their development.

 

Taciturn

There could be many causes to the child’s speech development. If a child is healthy, its normal phycho-locomtive development  is without deviation and has the right surrounding for speech development, and does not start speaking about the age of three we call this the extended  physiological taciturn. It shouldn’t lead to worries. This kind of child just needs all-round careful lead including support in its communication ability. It has a very good chance to catch up and fit in among its peers.

 

Repetition

Parents’ attitude and encouragement largely contributes to child’s speech development and its form and content. You cannot separate them. Taking up correct pronunciation of syllables requires manifold repetition of particular syllable in variety of words. It has to practice it in many situations as well as it has to have the opportunity and has to know how. It uses its senses and our willingness to repeat it many times. It is of course time and patience consuming process. In the first year of life child need to strengthen its emotional attachment, feel secure and parent should take the activity in hand. In the second year we aim to teach a child to use communication tools to be able to covet its needs.

Several principles to follow:

  1. We should always speak to a child in correct form of a word, don’t use ‘baby talk’.
  2. Pace of speech should be calm and understandable.
  3. Modulate with emphasis but don’t over-do it.
  4. Repeat child’s words in correct pronunciation and don’t pick on wrong-doing.
  5. Let child watch your face when you are speaking.
  6. Alternate activities with a break, don’t over-work your child. Make sure it sleeps regularly.
  7. Use song, rhymes, read fairy tales or stories. Look through pop-up books. Comment on the stories or the activity which you do together. Use communication games.
  8. Avoid drilling. Don’t ever use: “Say it now!”. You must not force your child to speak to you. The appetite to speak to us freely is important. Use positive feedback.

 

Questions

Somewhere around year three children might start asking: “What is it?” and immediately following with “Why?”. The essence of these questions lies in gathering information. However we discover soon that child is asking the same things over and over even though it knows the answer. If we consider the content of our ‘dialog’ we find out that child is not seeking information but it exercises your attachment to it and your personal guard. It is showing us that it has an interest in communication with us and wants to speak to us. Sensitive and understanding parent responds to this challenge with patience, doesn’t shout at the child and encourages with the answer their child to speak. It is not always easy to answer the probing question. However if your child hears only: “ Leave me alone. Don’t ask such a silly question. What is it now?”, your child will stop asking and its communication development will come to stop. If we feel tired or are not in the mood or just had a hard day, we have the right to say just “I don’t really know” or “I will find out” or stir the conversation to something else. It will give us at least a little break. Good dialog is always two sided and child will learn this for its future life.

 

Speaking

Even if we are caring and supporting our child in communication skills very well, it is also common, that you child is not able to say many words. It may even have some handicap in comparison to other. Around year three a child is able to actively use about 400 words (as mentioned above). Its speech is the major communication tool with its environment. It does not happen automatically. It is the result of many experiments and mistakes made while learning. Parents have the responsibility to support their child in any way possible, praise it, and motivate it. It can be impossible to judge objectively your child development by yourself. You are not able to compare and you may also be bias. If a child, at the age of three, doesn’t speak, I’d recommend visiting your local speech therapist who assesses your child and suggest further progress.

Speaking is hard work… When a child is learning to speak it becomes the busiest mentally overloaded person on the planet who, luckily, isn’t aware of it.