Language Development in Early Childhood

The language developmental phase of newborns is something parents eagerly look forward to. Hearing that “mama” or “dada” as the first word out of your child’s mouth is an intensifying pleasure in itself. It is a crucial part of the overall child development as it supports his/her ability to communicate, express, and learn various things.

Later down the road, it directly or indirectly impacts critical thinking, problem-solving and emotional balance, and shape your child’s adulthood, eventually deciding what he’ll end up being as an individual in the society. In this article, we’ll discuss language development in early childhood, some good parenting practices on how to improve the learning experience, and when to consult a child care specialist if your child faces problem in speaking.

How Speech Development Takes Place in Early Childhood

The first five years are considered crucial for child development by pediatricians during which they learn very quickly from their interaction with the outer world. Most children learn to utter some words by the time they hit 1.5 or 2 years. They can mumble a few words here and there, but it’s really after 3 years that they catch up with learning new words, phrases, and sentences. Here’s a timeline:

0-18 months

By the time babies celebrate their first birthday, they should be able to use voices to relate to the environment and inform the parents about their wants and motivations. Cooing and babbling are common sounds you’ll hear. Around 9 months, you may be blessed to hear the word “dada” or “mama.”

After the first year, they’ll increase their mumbling vocabulary and produce a wide range of sounds. Even though they won’t be able to speak, they can certainly follow some simple directions if trained properly like “give me the toy, sit down.”

18 to 24 months

When they cross 18 months, they can speak 20 or so words which go up to 50-60 by the time they become 2 years old. They will be able to combine words and make simple phrases like “momma food, dad big, baby crying” etc. Toddlers will also gain some reasoning ability during this period.

24 to 36 months

Children, after they cross 2 years, experience a language explosion and are able to speak close to 900-1000 words. With learning words, their expressive abilities get better. As time passes by and they reach 5 or 6 years, they would have garnered 8,000 to 14,000 words with the improved pronunciation of most.

How to help your child in early language development

Language Development in Early Childhood

Toddlers don’t learn everything on their own, they need to be taught. So as part of your parenting activity, make sure to adapt these practices to help your child learn faster. Many child care facilities across the world also use these simple strategies.


Talking to your baby on the things that excite him is a great way to enhance his speech learning experience. You talk about your day, your work, your dinner, your neighbors, etc. This gives your child the context in which he can use the words.

Reading books together

By reading a book out to your child, he learns words, their meanings, and the context in a better way. You should preferably choose books with lots of interesting real-world graphics and artwork so your child can relate to it.

Responding to your child

Lastly, always make it a habit to respond to your child in whatever way he/she speaks. If he mumbles, you should do the same, and he’ll mumble back. While responding, provide additional details or context to the subject which will help him learn better and faster.

In some children, they experience what is known as Delayed Speech. Symptoms are when your child isn’t vocalizing enough and isn’t responding to sounds normally. By the time they hit 2 years, they remain far behind in terms of speaking ability than other children. This can impact overall child development. In such a scenario, parents should immediately seek help from a child care specialist. The specialist will work with your child to improve his speaking and learning skills.

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