Parents want their kids to excel. Plain and simple. Whether it's in school, sports, or the arts, we all love it when they make us proud. As life would have it, this desire to feel proud starts from the very beginning. We parents are a excitable bunch. Every milestone has us jumping up and down.
And, this is all before baby can even utter their first comprehendible phrase. Though it's an entirely different ball game once baby does start talking. Which brings me to the point at hand - baby's speech. Most members of the parenting club do what we can to encourage positive development and nurture those tiny windows of opportunity.
Since we want to know how exactly to help our kids succeed, it only makes sense to learn what we should be doing to give them the one-up, right?
That's exactly what this post is all about. According to www.parents.com, there are a number of situations that could cause your baby's speech to be delayed and ways you can help avoid that. The entire link is at the bottom of the post in the "Reference" section should you want to check it out for yourself.
In the meantime, here are 15 things that might delay the baby's speech. Enjoy!
15 Losing The Baby’s Bellybutton
Perhaps you're familiar with the ABC series Kyle XY? He's the sci-fi boy famous for having no belly button. Granted, I haven't actually watched the show, so I'm clueless as to why the kid has no belly button, but that's beside the point. The point is that your own child's belly button is very important. Actually, it's important for your child to be able to find it. In fact, all those cute little body parts are important for them to find.
Not only does this help your child learn about their own body, but it also helps them to piece together their own communication skills. Bath time is a great time to talk about body parts obviously because your kiddo is in their birthday suit. The song "Head, Shoulder, Knees, and Toes" is also a double whammy because it teaches them body parts and gestures at the same time. Singing bath time anyone?
14 Speaking In Another Language
There are many parents who speak more than one language. Although many people think this postpones children from being able to communicate properly, it's simply a matter of interpretation. There isn't proof that one language is better to teach kids than any other language, but there is one that should be avoided. And, it might surprise you.
It's baby talk. Yep, babies learn language more slowly when we talk to them in baby talk. What I mean by baby talk isn't the singsong quality or over-pronounced words that many of us parents tend to use. Those are perfectly fine and can even support your baby's development. Baby talk is really not helpful when parents succumb to using fake terms rather than some form of the real thing. For instance, "Do you want your bottle? vs "Does toot-toot want his ba-ba?"
13 No Narrator
Much like our favorite movies, it's easy to imagine a narrator in our own lives. Sometimes, it's even fun to think of the things that our customized narrator would say. When you become a parent, you don't have to imagine. You can become your own narrator. Doing this is not only super fun, but it also helps your baby to understand how words work.
For instance, like the gif featured, you could narrate how awesomely you are washing the dishes. You can even make up a little tune about how cool it is to fold towels or pay the bills. Okay, that last one is a stretch, but you catch my drift. Narrating daily tasks will help your little one to make sense of the words you're saying and increase language skills altogether.
12 Not Stopping To Smell The Roses
Introducing new things to a baby typically goes one of three ways. The first response is absolute horror while the second is complete adoration. And the final response is simply that of distrusting observation. They just need a little more time to check it out and give that new thing their baby stamp of approval. All three responses are okay and as unique as your baby.
No matter the response, it's a good idea to direct your baby's attention to new things that you come across. Not only is this great exposure to the world around them, but it boosts communication, as well. The problem with this approach is that it's obviously time consuming. And, if there were ever a group of people short on time, it's parents. A great idea would be to set apart a time, like an afternoon walk, to focus on communicating about new things.
11 Too Much Cabin Fever
When your children are teenagers, you can expect the argument of pro-socialization to be an even more valid argument. After all, socialization is not just for funsies. Rather, it's an important element in cognitive development, specifically in terms of communication. Obviously, socializing for a teenager is going to be a lot different than socializing for a toddler. Though they often appear to be on the same wavelength - joke!
Things like playdates, daycare, nursery school, or simply a family get-together can all serve as socialization for your youngster. During these fun events, your child can interact with other kids, practice communicating, and even learn new things (hopefully good things). What seems like playtime for young children can actually be a beneficial sociological experience.
10 Look The Other Direction
There was once an adorable little pre-schooler who could not say "Yellow." From the time I met him at age three until about four, he consistently said "Lellow." In fact, the day he actually said it right, I felt a little sad inside. Although I was proud that he was finally able to pronounce the color correctly, it symbolized just how fast the little guy was growing up. That little guy has now graduated high school. And, he can still say "Yellow."
As a newbie child-care worker back then, I had no qualms about thinking his speech was anything but cute. But, his mother approached it much differently. Unlike the waving lady in the gif above, she was getting constant feedback from his teachers, the local speech therapist, and his doctor. Not that she was overly concerned, but she wasn't about to go looking the other direction when it came to possibly delaying his speech.
9 Fly Right By Milestones
There are many significant milestones that come and go in a baby's life. Most of them are listed on websites like this one, Parents.com, WhatToExpect.com, BabyCenter.com, and a dozen more reliable sources. Sometimes these milestone seem like cute little things your kids should be doing. Or maybe they seem like suggestions about what you can expect at this age and that age.
More than anything, for your child to hit a milestone is like a big gold star for that developmental period. Although averages are to be factored into your specific scenario, they are also to be taken seriously. When parents fail to acknowledge missed milestones, that's when developmental delays occur.
8 The "Hey You" Effect
We've all been called "Hey you!" at some point. Especially those of us who grew up with several siblings. In fact, some of us even thought "Jac-Meg-Bra-Sam..." was our name when we were younger. Of course, that's a slight exaggeration. What isn't an exaggeration, though, is that babies learn their own names by the time they're 6-9 months old.
They should turn their head to look your direction when you say their name. Though this does require parents to actually call them by their name. So, you can see how important it is to address your baby by their name. Babies listen and retain more than what most people give them credit for. It's isn't until a speech delay presents itself that most people start wondering how it could have been avoided.
7 No Exposure To Other Sounds
Just like hearing and responding to their names, babies can respond to other sounds as well. This mean that you need to talk to your baby as much as possible. You can even get out your old guitar to play and sing for them. Or turn on the radio to let them hear other people talking and singing.
Soon, your little one will attempt to imitate the sounds that they hear. You will quickly begin to recognize certain sounds, words, and even melodies your baby attempts to replicate. Silence doesn't do much to teach your baby to progress their speech. To avoid any speech delays, it's important to expose your baby to other sounds. You might even discover that your baby has a favorite song or nursery rhyme from very early on. And, that can be very, very exciting!
6 Not Into Books
Some of us are avid readers while others haven't read a book since we were forced to read Homer's Odyssey back in high school. And, whichever category you fit into is perfectly okay. Though when it comes to avoiding speech delays, your kids need story time. This doesn't mean you have to resort to The Odyssey, but it does mean you need to invest in some fun books for kids or check them out from your local library.
It's not so much that little ones are nuts for the characters or devious plot twists. More than anything, it's the sounds you make as you read them the story. For instance, they love the inflection in your tone and the rhythm of your voice. And further still, not only do they love it but they learn from it. It helps them wrap their little mind around the art of language.
5 Hands Glued To Side
If you're anything like communication experts or language professionals then you're probably fascinated by communication styles world-wide. Even if you're not at all like these two sub-groups, you still might be impressed with how other cultures express themselves. Even across the United States, there are different ways of communicating. Specifically, I'm talking about the gestures we choose to use.
It doesn't even matter where you're from, babies love gestures. More importantly, seeing others gesture and hearing them speak at the same time really hits home with a baby. It sort of helps to tie the whole endeavor of communicating into one complete package. So, go ahead and gesture your little heart away. Who cares if you look dramatic. The theatricalities of gesturing will get your baby's brain fired up and ready to learn.
4 Not Being Specific
We can't expect babies to know all their colors, shapes, and the names of all their toys right from the start. But, we can talk to them in specific terms. Specifically, by incorporating descriptive qualities to the subject. For instance, rather than just saying, "Where's your rattle?" you could say, "Where's your big orange rattle?"
This helps to add color and clarity to your language. Thus, adding color and clarity to your baby's language. In other words, fall in love with adjectives and use them in abundance. Not sure about adjectives? Well, don't tell J.K. Rowling because she loves them (ahem Harry Potter fans). Just be sure to point out colors, shapes, and texture when talking to your baby about their toys. Much like Rowling hooked us with her descriptive writing style, your baby will be hooked on your descriptive language, too.
3 Encouraging The Language Of Grunts
At five years old, there is a kiddo who doesn't talk. It's not that he can't, it's simply that he won't. Perhaps he will be another Einstein as he was a late talker, too. More than anything, though, this little guy simply has gotten away with using his own special kind of language. This language being the language of grunts. Yep, he grunts and points to whatever it is that he wants. Then, his parents get it for him. No questions asked.
You can see how the language of grunting can be problematic. By never requiring a child to do any other communication aside from grunting, that particular language (or lack of a language) is reinforced. School is going to open a world of opportunity for him, but he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Language developmental experts support parents requiring words opposed to grunts from their children. After all, the "use your words" phrase didn't become famous for nothing.
2 Forbidding Self-Expression
Self-expression really hits home for me. Maybe it does for you, too. Many parents fail to allow their children to fully express themselves. Specifically anger. While anger is a natural emotion, it can be very difficult to express appropriately. For this reason, many parents simply shut this emotion down and attempt to contain it by squelching the emotion altogether. And this is just one emotion, but I'm going to roll with this one for now.
As great as squelching might appear - like you have complete control of your kid - it's not actually helpful according to the experts. Self-expression isn't just important to your kid's emotional intelligence, but it's also vital to their language development. Being able to identify their own emotions and say something as simple as "mad, mad, mad" is more than what most adults can do. Ask any boss!
1 Not Validating Toddler Talk
When your child reaches the age of two, you can bet on understanding about 50% of what they say. Not that you don't know what they mean, but they can articulate well enough for you to actually understand it. As you may know, babbling starts very young and doesn't stop for several years. When you think about it, babbling sounds super goofy, so it must be fun, right?
Well, it's not a bad idea to jump right on in to the babbling conversation of your toddler. Not only does this validate to your toddler that they are attempting to exercise their language skills, but it encourages them to keep trying. Of course, their babbling might come across as incoherent and full of nonsense, but it actually has more sense than you might think. So, babble away!