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How to Determine if a Child's Speech and Language Development is on Track



As a concerned parent or caregiver, ensuring that your child's speech and language development is on track is essential. At Chit Chat Speech Therapy, our speech therapists are dedicated to helping children and their families navigate the complexities of speech and language development. Contact us either online or at 763-280-3202 to schedule a consultation today.

Understanding Speech and Language Development Milestones

Children develop speech and language skills at different rates, but there are general milestones that can help you determine if your child is on track. These milestones can be used as a guide to monitor your child's progress.

Birth to 3 Months

  • Startles to loud sounds

  • Quiets or smiles when spoken to

  • Recognizes your voice and calms down if crying

  • Makes cooing sounds

4 to 6 Months

  • Moves eyes in the direction of sounds

  • Responds to changes in tone of your voice

  • Notices toys that make sounds

  • Babbling sounds have both long and short groups of sounds

7 Months to 1 Year

  • Enjoys games like peek-a-boo

  • Understands simple words like "no" and "bye-bye"

  • Uses gestures to communicate, such as waving or shaking head

  • Imitates different speech sounds

  • Says first words

How to Monitor Your Child's Speech and Language Development

Regularly observing your child's communication skills and comparing them to age-appropriate milestones is crucial. Here are some tips to help you monitor your child's progress:

Keep a Journal

Document your child's speech and language development by keeping a journal. Note any new words, phrases, or communication milestones they achieve. This can help you track their progress and identify any potential concerns.

Engage in Conversations

Regularly engage in conversations with your child to promote their speech and language development. Encourage them to express themselves, ask questions, and share their thoughts. In the early stages of babbling, it’s important to mimic your child’s babbling back to them. This use their mirror neurons to show them reciprocal communication skills. They’ll learn that if YOU can copy them, then THEY can copy you! It’s a great way to start increasing their verbal skills. 

Use Playtime to Observe

Playtime is an excellent opportunity to observe your child's speech and language skills. While playing with your child, pay attention to their ability to follow directions, understand language, and express themselves.

When to Seek Help from a Speech Therapist

If you notice that your child's speech and language development is not progressing as expected or they are struggling to meet milestones, it may be time to seek professional help. Some signs that your child may benefit from speech therapy include:

Difficulty Understanding or Following Directions

If your child has trouble understanding or following directions, it may indicate a language comprehension issue that requires professional intervention.

Limited Vocabulary

A limited vocabulary or difficulty learning new words may indicate a speech or language delay that could benefit from therapy.

Challenges with Pronunciation

If your child struggles with pronunciation or speech clarity, a speech therapist can help them improve their articulation and overall speech quality. Often times parents will understand their child better than anyone else, so it’s important to pay attention to how well other, unfamiliar people can understand your child. Go to our articulation page to learn more about when specific speech sounds develop.

Social Communication Concerns

If your child has difficulty with social communication, such as taking turns in conversation, maintaining eye contact, or using appropriate facial expressions, a speech therapist can help address these challenges.


The Importance of Early Intervention in Speech and Language Development

Early intervention plays a crucial role in addressing speech and language delays. The earlier a child receives help, the better their chances are of overcoming challenges and achieving success in communication.

Benefits of Early Intervention

  • Improves language skills and overall communication abilities

  • Enhances social skills and peer interactions

  • Promotes cognitive development and problem-solving abilities

  • Boosts self-esteem and confidence

Components of Early Intervention

Early intervention programs typically include various components designed to meet a child's unique needs. These may involve:

  • Speech and language therapy

  • Occupational therapy

  • Physical therapy

  • Social skills training

  • Parent education and support

How Parents Can Support Their Child's Speech and Language Development

Parents and caregivers play a vital role in fostering a child's speech and language development. Here are some strategies to support your child's growth in this area:

Read to Your Child

Reading to your child daily exposes them to new vocabulary, sentence structures, and ideas, promoting language development. Choose age-appropriate books and engage your child in conversations about the stories.

Encourage Play and Exploration

Provide your child with opportunities for play and exploration, as these activities promote language development and social skills. Offer a variety of toys, games, and activities that encourage communication and interaction. Use words like “on, off, more, help, all done, go, open, close, up, down, eat, run” as early words when you’re playing with your child. 

Model Good Speech and Language Habits

Children learn by imitation, so it is essential to model good speech and language habits. Speak clearly, use correct grammar, and maintain a rich vocabulary when communicating with your child. Repeat back to your child what htye say to you, but add another desciprtive word or more words to their sentence. For example, if they say “More please,” repeat back “You WANT more please, ok, I’ll get you more ___,” or “More _____ please” if they’re really young. This is called expanding sentences and it teaches them how to make sentences longer and more meaningful using appropriate language.  

Create a Language-Rich Environment

Surround your child with a language-rich environment by labeling items in the home, engaging in conversations, and providing opportunities for listening to music, stories, and engaging in interactive activities.

Contact Us Today

Monitoring your child's speech and language development is crucial to ensure they are on track and to identify any potential issues early on. By understanding developmental milestones, observing your child during play, and engaging in daily conversations, you can help support their growth in this area. If you have concerns about your child's speech and language development, seeking help from a professional, like the speech therapists at Chit Chat Speech Therapy, is essential. Contact us either online or call/text us at 763-280-3202 to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help your child reach their full communication potential.

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