Language Development In Early Childhood: 7-9 Months

Understanding language development in early childhood (7-9 months) couldn’t have been more concise and simple! It is an integral baby development milestone to watch out for.

Let’s try and understand:

  • The stages of language development in early childhood – 7-9 months
  • Activities to stimulate language development in children of this age
  • Some more important points to remember

 With the given developmental milestones for 7-9 months, parents can not only monitor the language development in children but also expect the next milestone to be achieved. Individual differences are always present, but most of the children who are born with no complications during birth and or without impairments will be able to follow information and process language.

Language and speech development in month 7

  • By the beginning of the 7th month, your baby starts to pay more attention to various sounds and sound contrasts in her language.
  • She starts to respond to her name, and generally, the response is by looking at the sound source or seeking it. 
  • The developmental milestones that she will reach by this age, is using a variety of voices like grumbling, whining, moaning, etc. in her communication pattern. The interaction between a child and other people around her becomes more active and meaningful.
    Children not only begin to respond to their names but at the beginning of around 6-7 months, a new pattern of behaviour emerges. Combining consonant and vowels, which is called babbling, is an important milestone of child development. These consonant-vowel blends have various intonation pattern such as /da/ and /ma/. As they grow the length of consonant-vowel combination grows, which is called canonical babbling (Oller, 2000). Some children begin to produce longer sequences in this age group which is known as reduplicated babbling (Stark,1986). As children grow older, they begin to copy the intonation pattern of adults around them.

Language and Speech development in month 8

  • The language developmental milestones of an eight months old is determined by her ability to draw people’s attention through gestures, vocalisations, and also facial expressions. 
  •  The hand gestures and language development go hand in hand. It is reported that around 88 percent of young children’s early gestures are pointing, reaching, showing, and giving, which are called deictic gestures.
  • Another important language developmental milestone that can be noticed is that she may begin to use differential sound patterns. It means, using different pitch and intensity while talking to different people. 
  • Some children begin to express more through connected babbling utterances which may begin to sound like incomprehensible sentences. Some words like mama, papa, dada which are made with connecting the babbling sounds are now more clear and easily understood by caregivers.
    However, children continue to experiment with babbling using short consonant-vowel combinations. These sounds are stimulatory for child development. In fact, at around this time, how a caregiver responds to the uttered sound combinations influences the development of language further. 

Research suggests that young children’s hand gestures especially deictic gestures often precede the emergence of naming and first words, and gestures often share similar content or meaning

Crais, 2007

Language and Speech development in month 9 

  • The child’s understanding of language becomes better with her responding more to requests and sentences spoken to her. She might begin to understand questions like “ Where is mama?” to which she may look at her mother or simply gesture towards her. 
  • Another manifestation of child development you may notice during this stage is when she comprehends simple instructions like “No, don’t do it.” She may cease the activity when asked to or stop for a while; only to begin again waiting for you to say “No” once again. 
  •  Copying the expressions of adults is more frequent and intense now. 
  • The babbling becomes more frequent and intonate. The utterances are longer and contextual. Sometimes she might sound very clear but at the other times not so much. It may seem that her utterances are comprehensible to her only. Words like papa , mama, and dada are more person-specific . 

Activities to stimulate language and speech development in children (7-9 months olds)

  • Echo and expand on what your baby says while interacting with her. Follow her lead and expand on her utterances, words or sounds. Add one or two words to what she says when you respond. If she says, “ba – ba to say “bye-bye ,” you say “yes, papa is going, bye bye.” Hold her hand, make the waving action, and say bye-bye. The child will observe your mouth and the action. She will then learn to associate her action with words in the future. 
  • Good modelling:  Listening to your child is another important aspect of the language development in early childhood. Please don’t be in a hurry to respond or make her repeat after you. Be a good model and speak to her. Our children learn through observation and imitation. Try “TO DEMONSTRATE” good speech and language patterns rather than ‘ TO CORRECT” speech or language errors.
  • Communicate at the child’s level: Be aware of her language abilities. Then, talk with the child at, or just above that level. Keeping comments simple and direct (avoid “Baby Talk” at this time), is the key to stimulate your child’s development.
  • Do not hand a screen to fill up your child’s time. Besides the obvious harms of screentime, too much exposure to screen is also known to cause speech delays in children. Each additional 30 minutes of hand-held screen time was linked to a 49 percent increased risk in expressive speech delay2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting. Simply put, you will be doing a disservice to your child’s language development in early childhood, by handing him a phone or an Ipad.
  • Create opportunities to use language: Does she need to use words in order to communicate? Many of the questions we ask our children may require only a nod to indicate yes or no. To increase the need to communicate verbally, try asking a question that requires a verbal response (i.e., “What would you like to drink?”). To increase the likelihood of a verbal answer, model a target response (i.e., “You’ re thirsty. Would you like a cup of juice or water?”). Encourage, rather than demand imitation.
  • Communication should be fun and rewarding: Play games or plan activities that encourage verbal interaction. Play games in which she needs to ask you for the next move. Activities which foster turn-taking and cooperation are essential for pre-linguistic development in children as part of language development in early childhood.
  •  Repetition of the child’s utterances – whatever meaningful or non-meaningful the child speaks, should be repeated after her to make her aware that she is saying something and that is being acknowledged. After you repeat what she has spoken, you also repeat the corrected or meaningful version of it as comprehended by her. Add on to what she says: “Want doll?” “I have a doll.” “I have barbie.” “Do you want apple juice?”
  • Name out things to her whenever spending time together. Point out to the trees, leaves, flowers when outdoors, or insects and tell your child the correct names of those objects. When feeding her talk to her telling her that “Now, I will put a bite of rice in your mouth.” Emphasize on the word rice so that she learns to connect the right name with the object thereby expanding her vocabulary and also her speech skills.

Important points to remember

  • With her, however, try to keep your utterances simple and specific. Complex sentences would only confuse a child. Try to give her choices but ask her in a simple form. For example – When you show two items like a car and a scooter, ask her “want car”, “want scooter”
  • Read to her to develop watching, waiting, and listening skills. A few recommended books for children of this age group are:- 
  • Baby’s first book 
  • Red, Blue, Yellow Shoe by Tana Hoban
  • Animal Kisses by Barney Saltzberg
  • Bedtime (Baby Touch and Feel) Board book by DK
  • Touch and Feel Playbooks like (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) Board book by Eric Carle  (Author)
  • Lift-the-Flap Books like Zoom, Zoom, Baby!: A Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Book (Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Books) Board 
  • A Press-Button Sound Book like Elmer’s Band: A Press-Button Sound Book Hardcover by David McKnee
  •  Avoid unrelated imitation frequently, just because you want her to speak something or anything.
  • Encourage activities which involve body movements as well sounds. Don’t be impatient. 

Children are modelling their language based on the stimuli they receive and their observance. So, avoid popular euphemisms, name things with the correct names, and speak slowly and correctly for the child to comprehend and follow. Language development in early childhood is a slow but definitive process. With a bit of encouragement, be prepared for hours of endearing chatting with your little one.

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