How Children Learn to Talk

For children, learning to communicate is one of the most essential and exciting parts of developmentBut have you ever wondered how babies learn to communicate? The process of learning how to understand language and talk is known as language acquisition

While there is no set timeline for developing language skills, there are general milestones that children tend to reach during their first few years

Stage 1: Babbling

The babbling, or pre-linguistic stage, occurs in the first year of life when babies are unable to speak, but they can form developmental habits related to speech, such as: 

  • Moving their lips 
  • Sticking out their tongues
  • Cooing, babbling, or whining
  • Making eye contact when spoken to
  • Using gestures 

Stage 2: One-Word

Between the ages of about 10 to 13 months, babies may reach the holophrase or one-word stage. As the name suggests, this stage involves speaking one word at any given time, but the child may also make use of nonverbal cues.

For example, your baby may say “Dada” upon seeing their dad walk in the room and point to him. This one word could mean anything from “I want you to feed me” to “I want the toy that’s in your hand.”

Stage 3: Two-Word Sentences

In this phase, children may begin to pair words together in short sentences or phrases. These simple sentences may sound like: 

  • Declarative: “Doggy pretty.”
  • Interrogative: “Where mama?”
  • Negative: “No milk.”
  • Imperative: “More play!”

The two-word stage typically takes place around 18 to 24 months and is usually paired with more nonverbal cues.

Stage 4: Telegraphic Stage

The telegraphic stage typically starts around 24 months. This period of child development involves expressions and thoughts that are longer than two words and have more meaningful content. These sentences are often more grammatically correct and can include sentences like: 

  • “Doggy is pretty.”
  • “Where is mama?”
  • “Don’t want milk.”
  • “I want play more.”

As kids grow older, have more experiences, and form new relationships, their language gradually gains more complexity, adding in conjunctions, prepositions, and other grammatical elements.

It is usually not until your child is five or six years old that they can reach almost adult-like sentences, using a vast range of vocabulary and distinguishing between difficult concepts, such as the difference between promising to do something and saying they will do something. 

Language Development and Autism

Children with autism may develop their own unique language patterns. Some common language patterns in children with autism include: 

  • Repeating phrases
  • Bringing up topics that do not relate to the conversation
  • Uneven language development 
  • Poor nonverbal conversation skills

At Springtide Child Development, we can help enhance your child’s language skills in a safe, structured, and distraction-free environment, so they can learn to be better communicators!

Improve Language Skills at Springtide Child Development Center

Although the way children learn to speak is not set in stone, it may be cause for concern if your child is significantly behind in their language development. If your child has autism and struggles with language acquisition, contact Springtide Child Development Center

At Springtide, we pride ourselves in crafting personalized treatment plans using a combination of Applied Behavior Analysis, speech therapy, and occupational therapy to help children on the autism spectrum reach new milestones and become more independent. 

Click here to learn more about how to enroll your child today. 

Springtide Child Development Center

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Springtide Child Development was awarded an Award of Distinction with The Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE) and is a member of The Council of Autism Service Providers (CASP). These awards celebrate exceptional special needs providers that are leading the way in the areas of clinical quality, staff satisfaction, qualifications, and consumer satisfaction.
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