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Baby Talk Can Signal Language Delay

By one year, parents should expect full, intelligible words, expert says

FRIDAY, July 8, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Children who use "baby talk" for too long may be showing signs of language delay, one expert warns.

Linda Crowe, associate professor in the communication sciences and disorders program at Kansas State University, defined "language delay" as a child who's slow to begin talking, develop vocabulary, understand language, or acquire proper sentence structure and word endings.

She offered the following language-progression milestones:

  • 6-9 months. Children at this age will babble and begin combining sounds, such as "da-da." At this age, children should be alert, attentive, turn toward your voice and recognize your face.
  • 9-12 months. At this stage, children will begin to experiment with variations of sounds and utter their first true words, such as "Mommy" or "Daddy."
  • 12-24 months. During this period, parents should hear their children say consistent, intelligible words.
  • If an 18-month-old child isn't acquiring new words or hasn't acquired 50 intelligible words by age 2, parents should be concerned, Crowe said.
  • By age 3, three-word sentences put together by children should be fairly intelligible.
  • By kindergarten, children should be able to count to five or 10, know their basic colors, know and say their own name, be able to ask questions, use complex sentences and repeat parts of favorite stories.

If parents suspect a language delay, they should contact their school district's early intervention services, who will evaluate the child in order to determine if there is a problem and, if so, suggest the best course of treatment. Parents can also have their children screened by private practitioners.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about delayed speech or language development.

SOURCE: Kansas State University, news release, June 28, 2005
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