Usually babies start saying few words from as early as 8 months of age. They utter words like “mama”, “papa”. By 18 months their vocabulary increases and they may even talk few line. But sometimes child cannot talk till age of two and half. Still it is normal many a times.
Important landmarks to be taken into consideration
- At the end of one year child should be able to communicate with sounds and gestures
- By 1 ½ year child should speak at least few words. By 18 months if child uses gestures more than words or baby cannot imitate sounds then it is matter of concern.
- By two years if child does not speak spontaneously then one must consult the doctor.
Causes of delayed speech
- Short frenulum limits the tongue movement and can cause delayed speech.
- There can be a problem in the area of brain which is responsible for speech.
- Cleft palate: There is a hole in the upper palate which causes difficulty in talking and swallowing.
- Deafness – Deaf child cannot hear so such child will not be able to speak. For him to speak, first of all he must be able to hear.
- Ear infection during childhood can lead to hearing loss and can lead to delayed speech.
- Nervousness and anxiety.
If you notice any of the signs mentioned above in your child, consult an ENT specialist doctor and get your child examined thoroughly. Ear infection can be treated with antibiotic that are prescribed by the doctor. If there is problems in brain development, speech therapist can help you to develop the required skills.
Steps You Can Take
At home parents can take certain steps to improve speech and language skills of the child like:
- Speak regularly with your baby.
- Read stories to your child to increase their vocabulary.
- Show them the lip movement and tongue movement and encourage them to make sounds and utter words.
- Encourage them to ask questions and to ask for what they want.
- Give them toys which will help them to build speech through interacting with toys.
- Give your child love and attention. Try to increase their level of confidence by giving assurance and inspire them to make more efforts to improve their speaking skills.
- Avoid making fun of them or their speech in front of others.
- Help them to relax in order to avoid stress. Teach them simple relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and shavasan.
- Apply lukewarm brahmi (bacopa monnieri) oil on baby’s scalp. Keep it overnight and rinse the scalp in the morning. This is found to be beneficial in babies who have delayed speech.
- Make paste of 7-8 almonds, 2 peppercorns and sugar, and give this candy to baby to lick.