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Could My Baby Have a Speech Issue?

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Should your baby be saying more than “goo-goo ga-ga?”

We talked to Jaye Wike, Speech Language Pathologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, about baby and toddler communication. He shared some key milestones to look for and signs of possible speech issues.

What is the normal age range for children to begin communicating through speech?

• Children often begin using single words at 12 months old.
• By 18 months, children can have 10 to 20 single words in their vocabulary.
• By 24 months, children can have 200 or more single words and will begin to put two-word combinations together.
• Early developing letter sounds that children use between 1 and 2 years of age include p, b, m, t, h and w.

What signs may indicate a child needs help with his or her speech?

Since communication development begins in infancy, there are developmental patterns that occur in the first 12 months that parents should watch for. In the first 3 months infants coo, while babies between 4 to 6 months engage in vocal play and babble sounds.

From 7 months to 1 year, babbling consonant vowel combinations occur, with an increasing variety of consonant sounds. They use intonation, and these sound combinations begin to sound similar to familiar words.

After 12 months of age, signs that may indicate the need for help with speech include no single words between 12 to 15 months or less than 10 to 20 single words by 18 months. Words should include both consonants and vowels. If a 24-month-old child uses less than 50 single words and is not beginning to put two-word combinations together, parents may want to seek advice.

When should parents consult their child’s pediatrician or a speech language pathologist?

Contact your pediatrician if the above signs are not seen, but remember that all children develop at their own pace.

If these skills are not yet emerging, your pediatrician may refer your child for a full evaluation with a speech language pathologist. Along with speech, your child’s understanding and use of language will be screened. For example, at 12 months, your child should be pointing to objects you name, making gestures, and recognizing his or her name. By 18 months to 20 months, your child should also be following simple directions.

Learn more about hearing, speech and learning services at Children’s Colorado.

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