Pregnancy and Beyond

Babies learn to talk naturally when they hear their parents talking to them. They don't need talking lessons, but here are some things you can do to encourage your child to talk.

  • Talk to your baby in simple sentences and phrases. Begin by describing what you are doing, seeing and thinking. While baking a cake you could say, "Here is the bowl. Pour in the cake mix. Pour in water, one egg, two eggs. Stir the cake. Stir it some more."
  • When you are playing with your baby, use words to describe what she is seeing, doing, and hearing. This will give her words to think with and will help her understand that words have meaning.
  • Throughout the day give your baby opportunities to use often-repeated words. For example, at snack time, hold up some juice and say "Juice, Want Juice?" Encourage your baby to say juice, but do not withhold the juice if she does not attempt to say the word.
  • Your baby will enjoy imitating your voice pattern. Use "uh-oh" when appropriate and listen to what happens. Your baby also enjoys you imitating her babbling.
  • Be sure to listen and respond to your baby. Try to answer her in words when she makes noise at you. Remember she is talking to you.
  • Your baby will enjoy listening to rhymes and songs.
  • Look in the mirror and point out facial and body parts on yourself and your baby. Ask, "Where's your nose?" Help her find it.
  • Show your baby picture books. Talk about the pictures and point to and name things in the picture.
  • Talk about and play with toy animals. Your baby can learn to say what the animals say: "Bow-wow," "Meow," "Moo-oo."

The following checklist is a guide to normal hearing and speech development for a 12-18 month old baby. As time goes by, check to see if your baby can do most of the things listed below:

  • Hears when called from another room.
  • Follows simple spoken directions, like "Come here".
  • Turns directly to interesting sounds or when her name is called.
  • By 12 months of age, uses about 2 to 3 words.
  • By 15 months of age, uses 6 to 8 words.
  • By 18 months of age, uses 10 to 20 words.

If you think your baby cannot hear, ask your health care provider to refer you to a licensed audiologist who has experience in testing for hearing loss in babies.