When should a child start speaking?

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Dr. Sayed Mujahid Husain, Paediatrician with Apollo Medical Centre, Bangalore, India, explains the developmental milestones of speech in children and when should you be worried if your child is not speaking.

Most of the children follow a standard timeline of speech development.  It is normal if your child is deviating from the milestones. Some kids start achieving other developmental stages like walking, running, etc. earlier than speaking clearly.

An infant’s brain is busy developing and learning new skills every day. Like all other skills, speech and language is an important milestone that should develop properly by the age of 2-3. How quickly a child learns to speak will depend on some external as well internal factors. External stimulation in the form of sound, music, sight, and exposure to people speaking are very crucial.

Based on the general criteria, experts have developed a standard timeline for a child’s speech development. Normally, a child should start producing monosyllable words by 6-9 months. By the age of 2-2.5 years, a child should be able to speak short, meaningful phrases.

If you are concerned with the delay in speech development in your child, speak to your doctor. Early intervention means better outcome after treatment.

Here is the checklist to suspect a speech development delay:

  1. Difficulty in understanding simple instructions
  2. Does not imitate sounds at 18 months
  3. Prefers using a sign language than verbal at 18 months or beyond
  4. Still not pointing at things or waving at 12 months or beyond

Request your paediatrician to refer to a speech specialist if your child is experiencing speech difficulties. A detailed evaluation by an expert should be able to pinpoint the exact problem and suggest a proper treatment.

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