Toddler Speech Milestones

Chirping, babbling, first words... discover in detail the different stages of your baby's language. Be careful, each child evolves at his own pace, so keep in mind that these are only reference points.


Baby's language: basics from the moment of birth

It is from his life in utero that the child begins the acquisition of language. Once his eardrums have formed, in the 6th month of pregnancy or so, he will rock in a world of sounds and rhythms. This is why, from birth, the newborn is already able to distinguish its mother tongue from a foreign language based on their melodies. Because he hears it better than others, his mother's voice is also more familiar to him.

Up to 7 months: Sounds come first

Very quickly, a baby manages to differentiate the vowels. For consonants, it takes about a month before he can recognize the sounds. If he perceives phonetic contrasts, it does not mean that he can reproduce them. The "areuh" that some babies produce are not actually voluntary until around 5 months of age. Before, they are just uncontrolled expressions of his feelings (well-being, discomfort...). If the communication is longer to come, the understanding is not. From 4 months, a baby distinguishes his first name from another first name with the same number of syllables.


From 7 months to 1 year: the age of babbling

Not all children babble, even if they have the physiological capacity to do so at around 7 months of age. It all depends on their personality. However, some choose to repeat the syllables they manage to pronounce in order to train their language: they do their language gymnastics. At 8 months of age, scientists estimate that children are able to recognize a word when it is presented in a sentence. They first retain the sound, which later, at about 10 months of age, will become meaningful. You can then start reading picture books, which will help your child's vocabulary.


Baby's first words

The average child's first words are spoken at the age of one year. He is already able to recognize the grammatical words of his language (articles, auxiliaries...). Little by little, the child begins to be able to detach a word from its context: in other words, to understand it, even if what it represents is out of his sight. His vocabulary is getting richer and richer. He knows many words without yet being able to say them. And at 15 months, your baby understands sentences. That's because at this stage he can distinguish between the nouns of verbs or articles and can decipher what you're saying. He can tell the difference between "Daddy walks the dog" and "the dog walks Daddy.


Between 18 months and 2 years old: his language improves

Research has shown that at 18 months of age, children's vocabulary grows considerably. It is during this period that he will voluntarily put intonation in his words: questions and exclamations become intentional. It is also before the age of 2 that some children begin to formulate short sentences, even if their articulation is still imperfect. At this age, the child has not yet mastered the use of linking words but builds sentences whose syntax is sufficiently correct to be understood by an adult.


At 3 years old: the child speaks almost as well as an adult

By the age of 3, all children in the world have as good an understanding of their mother tongue as adults and are able to speak it. Because their vocal apparatus is not yet mature, they still have difficulty articulating well. Some consonants can also pose real problems. But they are ready to discover the joys of conversation and will now have to learn to listen!


Language delay in children

Just because your child is not developing exactly as described above does not necessarily mean he or she is late. As with all other aspects of psychomotor development, each child learns at his or her own pace. The ages shown here are averages only, in an area where individual variability is significant. Nevertheless, if your child does not seem to understand what you are telling him/her from 18 months of age, it is necessary to ask questions. Ask him/her for something simple, without putting your money where your mouth is. If your baby doesn't respond, he or she may have a hearing problem.
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