Every child is unique when it comes to the development of speech and other skills. The specific age when babies begin to respond to stimuli by trying to communicate can vary. For instance, some kids may start using words and sounds when they are just seven months old, while others may not talk much for four or even five years.
However, parents and caregivers will want to get their child evaluated early on to make sure they don’t have any problems with their mouth, tongue, ears, vocal cords, or cognitive skills. The earlier these challenges are detected, the easier it is to provide a kid with the help they need to succeed.
If your child has been diagnosed with delayed speech, getting speech therapy can help them overcome their issues and learn to speak with confidence. Here are some of the things you can do at home to speed up the process and help your child pick up language skills.
Focus Your Entire Attention on the Child
Lots of parents work long hours and don’t have the time to talk to their babies. But, as your speech pathologist will explain, babies learn to pick up sounds when their caregivers speak to them. When you’re caring for the baby, focus your complete attention on them. Talking to them, singing, reciting nursery rhymes, gesturing, and imitating the sounds they make are cues to communicate. Your child might place their fingers and hands on your mouth and face to understand how you make sounds and try to imitate with mouth movements of their own.
Reading to the Child
Reading encourages communication and language skills. When you sit with the baby and read, the child looks at the pictures and connects images with words. Short stories with lots of photos in bright colors are more suitable for the child’s short attention span. Read each book slowly, stressing each word. Talking in a slightly higher pitch and voice modulations are effective ways to grab the child’s attention and help them catch up with their delayed speech skills.
Provide Lots of Encouragement
When the child learns to make sounds and form words, they need lots of encouragement and applauding. Smiling, nodding, and listening carefully also promotes interest in communication. When the child is still young, you must speak in short sentences not more than a few words long. Give the child time to understand by taking a break between each sentence. Ask them to repeat what you’ve just said, so they build comprehension skills.
Correct Gently and Consistently
It’s normal for kids to stumble over words and pronunciations. Be patient when they’re trying to convey a thought. Don’t rush them or cut them short by completing sentences or prompting. Point to objects and teach them how to identify them. Colors, numbers, alphabets, and locations like here, up, and down are all great ways to promote communication skills and help kids with delayed speech.
While getting speech therapy is essential, parents can help with lots of love and encouragement.