During the first two years of your child’s life, much of her time will be occupied by the study of language. From the time she’s born (perhaps even while in utero, according to some research), she will be observing the way adults communicate and learning the rules for when she’s ready to attempt it herself.
While every child learns at her own pace, and children from bilingual homes learn each language more slowly than if they were only learning one at a time, the following timeline is what generally applies to most children:
Your child can only communicate with her cries now, but even they will be nuanced; her cry when she’s hungry will sound different from her cry when she’s sleepy.
Your child will start to babble, or vocalize, with words that sound like “dada,” “baba,” and “yaya.” Though “mama” and “dada” may come out, your child does not yet identify you with these words.
The babble will begin to sound more similar in tone to actual language as your child works to more closely mimic your speech.
She will have acquired at least one word and will start to experiment with inflection, like the raised inflection used when asking a question.
Your child will be able to use 50-70 words herself, but will understand nearly 200, especially nouns. She’ll start to pick up the words you use much more frequently now and string them together, first in two-word then three-word sentences. She will also start to sing simple tunes and express her feelings more.
Your child will now begin to master the correct volume for speaking, the use of pronouns, and forming simple, complete sentences. Her vocabulary will also grow to nearly 300 words. By age 3, she will be able to carry on conversations.
The best ways to aid your child in learning to speak is to talk to her about what’s going on in her environment (without using baby talk), read to her frequently, and listen when she speaks to you.
If your child doesn’t seem to be where she should be at her age, she may be delayed or have a hearing problem. Discuss these concerns with your child’s pediatrician.
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