Your little one is perhaps growing up faster than you expected. At 4-6 months, she is already sitting up and babbling all day — setting up norms for achieving her speech milestones. Now that your baby has passed her newborn stage, she can learn new things and explore the world around her in a better way. Her body is growing, reaching different baby milestones faster, and she has gained more control and awareness about her capabilities. At this phase of life, the way you treat your baby, is going to define the person she will become in the future.
A very important aspect of your little one’s all-round development is her ability at speech and communication — how well she is able to tell her needs to you, both verbally and non-verbally — all forming a part of baby speech. But the speech and language development in children milestones mentioned here are only for reference purposes. It is important to remember that all the babies are different and they have their own pace of growth. So if your baby is not accomplishing the common baby milestones, don’t stress out or rush the process. Some babies take time, and it’s completely normal.
When it comes to speech and language development in children of a 4-6 month old, let’s understand
- Baby communication milestones (4-6 months) which is about the stages of baby speech, month on month
- Activities to boost communication and language development in children
Baby Speech Milestones at 4 months
The baby tries to imitate parents and makes shapes with their lips. As using lips is the easiest way to produce sound, the first sound we generally hear is “m.” That is how they learn to call ‘mumma’, or ‘mama’ first, as they strictly require involvement of lips only. Go, give it a try. The other sounds that follow are ‘p,’ mostly used for ‘papa’ and ‘b’ for ‘baba’ or ‘booboo.’ Some babies will already be on their way to mouthing sounds of ‘b’ ‘p’ or ‘d’ as part of early baby speech.
The little babbler
Another baby milestone you may find your baby reaching is, babbling. They are not going to be definite words, but she will try to produce whatever she can, and your encouragement by engaging with her and responding to her talk will help in language development in children of her age. To develop babbling further, indulge in some baby talk with her. This will help her reach her speech milestones on time.
Babbling becomes a part of her routine. Don’t interrupt it; let her practice as much as she wants since this is a great way stimulate baby development especially in communication. This helps her in exercising the muscles of her mouth so she can experiment how making different shapes can produce different sounds. She also becomes very attentive to sounds around her. Talk as much as you can so that she can associate your voice with your face.
Smiling, squealing, screeching all will become a part of her baby speech when excited.
Researchers found that adults unconsciously modify their speech to include fewer unique words, shorter sentences, and more one-word replies when they are responding to a baby’s babbling, but not when they are simply speaking to a baby. In other word, babies are manipulating their learning environment, through the adults, in ways which will make learning easier for them.Cornell University’s Behavioral Analysis of Beginning Year
Still crying for communication!
Of all her expressions, the most challenging one to decode is her crying. It becomes difficult to understand what exactly is it that’s bothering her. Is she feeling sick? Is there a need for the diaper change? Or the most ambiguous one; is she bored ! Yes, your baby may cry out of boredom too. Human beings are curious creatures, and exploring the world is our nature. This curiosity and exploration stimulates your baby’s cognitive abilities. For her, staying idle will lead to mental discomfort as all the new sensory, and cognitive development is going in vain. So always remember to check for boredom if the baby seems clean, well fed and physically fine. Play with her and see if that stops her crying, as all she needs sometimes is attention. But interestingly, if you notice carefully, her cries for different needs will start to vary slightly–more urgent when hungry or in need of a diaper change, and more angry or tantrum-ish when in mood for entertainment.
Baby speech milestones at 5 months
From lips to throat
There is not much difference in month 4 and 5, but you will observe the growth and frequency of everything that you noticed in month 4, is going on in a more fluent manner. She squeals with happiness often and burst into laughter at the slightest provocation. This is a beautiful month of the baby’s development, where you enjoy her company a lot. She starts gurgling, which (means she is learning to make a sound) using her throat. Encourage her to do it as the sounds like ‘aa’ ‘kh’ comes from the throat which she needs to use in order to develop her speech and communication.
You will find her trying to mimic sounds and not just yours but anything that is around her. She will try to bark like a dog or practice ‘bhurr’ with her lips as it is easier and fun to do–all a precursor to language development in children. If she has not started doing it yet then maybe you can encourage her. In the process, you can also notice how attentive she has become.
- Call her by her name and see if she moves her head to see you.
- Clap from different directions to check how her attentiveness has developed.
- She might be trying to or already have started (close to 6 months) using more words like ‘mama’ ‘papa’ etc. with or without the association.
- Talk to her as much as possible to encourage her baby speech and vocabulary; the many words she hears, the more she will try to imitate.
Use one language. We are multilingual people, but a baby’s brain will take a lot of time to understand and comprehend the difference between them. Different languages have different rules which a small brain will not be able to understand. Use the language that you are most comfortable in because if you teach your baby English while you converse in your mother tongue around, it will confuse her.
Baby speech milestones at 6 months
An active tongue
By this month you are entirely comfortable and habituated with the babble talk. Your baby has a broader vocabulary. Another baby milestone maybe achieved as she uses words like ‘chacha’ ‘dada’ ‘lala’ etc. involving the use of the tongue, which is crucial in forming words. To promote your baby’s development, sit with her and slowly say words so she can see the shape of your mouth and follow your cue by imitating the movement. Baby talk is nice, but you need to introduce her to new words to encourage her to learn faster. Do not stress it, though. Your job is to introduce words, not expect results.
The cacophonous music all day as part of baby speech
You will also find her making high pitch sounds, experimenting with and exploring different pitches. The baby will use these tones of voice to communicate demand, joy, sorrow etc. It also depends upon the kind of tone you use with her. Try to be as expressive and obvious in your expression as you can. Give her time to learn and if possible, make it a part of her routine and do it when she is in a good mood.
Smile: another way to communicate
She communicates with her smile a lot, for example, if you look and smile at her, she will do the same if she is happy. Also making loud, squeaky sounds to attract your attention and get you to look at her will be a norm. Your little one will achieve another baby milestone by learning to look at the direction while talking and holds eye contact for a longer period of time. Faces that are familiar are also recognized. Consonants as difficult as ‘g’ and ‘k’ can also become a part of the sounds she can make, and if she doesn’t, it’s okay, she eventually will. Her vocalizations will vary, and you can see the improvement daily. All you need to do is encourage her.
To wrap it up the stages of language development in children,
- Your baby will either bore you or delight you by repeating the same sound again and again.
- She will now learn to string together some vowels and consonants to make more recognizable words, though you may still not be able to interpret or make sense of those..
- Communication through sign language, pointing with her index finger towards toys, outdoors, water etc is going to be a norm now.
- Few words—bath, milk, diaper—will be recognizable to her. These would be the words you probably are using frequently…so keep adding more words to her vocabulary.
- Her expertise at non-verbal communication is getting defined at this stage and includes: tantrums, fussing, angry noises, whining etc to communicate her needs. This should be encouraged as it forms a part of language development in children.
Activities to Boost Communication and language skills of your baby
1. The Name
Call your baby by her name. Talk to her while you are bathing and dressing her; talk to her about the steps: for eg: now we will make you wear your dress so put your arms up like this Also, make sure that she is able to see the source of the voice (you) while doing so. Speak to her slowly and clearly. Use her name repeatedly and check if she responds to it and when she does, reward her with a hug or a smile. She may be young, but she understands the language of love and affection. Sit at some distance and call her to come to you. Reward her with a big hug. This will prompt her to indulge more in desired behaviour, thereby reach her speech milestones on time.
Hum or sing softly when she is going to sleep. Not only will this help her in sleeping but also create an anchor to sleep. Humming soothes a baby. It will help her understand different pitches that she can experiment with later when communicating with you. A soothing way to encourage her reach baby milestones, isn’t it ?
3. Read Read Read
Find good children books with big pictures and bright colours. Read the story to her and enact it in a dramatic fashion. Make funny faces. Use different voices and intonations for different characters, point at the pictures even if she does not understand it yet. Read to her daily. It will allow her to make an association between words and book, It is also a meaningful “parent-kid” quality time (especially when you run out of ideas on how to entertain her now).
4. Game Time
Play games that make sense to your baby. Peek-a-Boo is one. It teaches children the concept of object permanence. It creates anticipation, and babies love to get surprised. Tickle her lightly, make her laugh. Take the toys and tease with it. Buy toys that make different or baby-friendly sounds. As the baby generally imitates you, this time you can turn the tables and actually mimic the baby; she will find it hilarious.
5. Practice Words
Pick up an object and show it to her and say what it is. For example, you can pick up a book in front of her face and say ‘book’ again and again. Eventually, she will start associating it with the word and call it by its name. You can also encourage her to call you ‘Mumma’, her father, ‘papa’ ‘mum’ for water, and so on. The goal is to make her identify the basic needs, use sounds to communicate them and to move one step forward in accomplishing her speech milestones. When handing her over a toy, name it (it’s a block/car) to help her identify things with their names. Repetition is the key here.
According to research the amount of family time spent with the baby during her early cognitive development, is proportionate to her language and communication development. It also emphasizes that the first six months in an infant’s life is extremely crucial. This is why stimulating her brain with new games, colors, shapes, and people is a good idea.Carolyn Cates and Samantha Berkley et al
When to See the Doctor?
If you feel your baby is not maintaining eye contact or not holding eye contact for a longer time you may want to check with the doctor.
Your baby may not be attentive to her surroundings, but if you find that she is not responding to generally responded sounds like heavy metal clanking, or clapping or music, then it’s time to see the paediatrician who, from there, will direct you.
Even if the baby has not started using words, you can still recognise if there is something wrong in the way her voice sounds. Is the voice rhythm inconsistent? Does it crack or has weird touches? A visit to the doctor will be a good decision.
Babbling and mimicking
If she is not babbling or mimicking ( which are important baby milestones you can expect by 6th month) you, you may wish to meet with the doctor once.
Pointing at things or trying to reach to desired objects is a natural behaviour–and forms a part of speech milestones. It is not something that you have to teach actively. When a baby wants her mother, she will instinctively stretch her tiny little hands to her, and won’t it seem bothersome when she doesn’t?
Lastly, infancy is a time that is all about keeping the baby well and strengthening the bond of trust between parents and the infant. It is going to take a lot of efforts and many sleepless nights. Communication develops slowly and requires inputs from parents–for the baby to reach her speech milestones timely. This is a wonderful time, and you can make the best of it by deciding what you are going to introduce to your little sweetie pie. Reading, talking, mimicking are the basic things that will improve your little ones communication and language skills and help her reach her speech milestones.
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