Early Speech and Language Development: Myth Busting

Hayden with a dummy at 9 months

There is a lot of pressure put on first time parents, and indeed on second, third or fourth time parents, for their children to conform to certain development milestones. This is a pressure parents put on themselves, as well as the perceived pressure from health professionals, family members and nursery staff.

In reality, every child is different, and they will do things at their own pace. One of the biggest worries for parents is their child’s development of speech and language, and there are many things that are said to aid or hinder the progress of this. Find some of the biggest myths here:

Baby talk 
It is often said that talking in baby talk, or using sounds instead of words when speaking to your child, can hinder acquisition of language. There is no proof to back this up however, and it is argued that this type of language is an integral stage in speech development, helping your child to tune in to language and start to repeat sounds. These can be short sounds such as “ma” and “da” or even noises or animal sounds. Use toys such as the Little People House and Farm to help teach babies the different animals and their noises in a fun way.

Older siblings
There is a lot of talk that younger children are slower to learn to speak because their older brothers or sisters communicate on their behalf. This has been proved to be untrue, with some younger siblings speaking earlier due to taking their lead from the older children. Regardless of when the first 50-word milestone is met, both older and younger siblings seem to catch up quickly to around the same point come the start of school.

Using a dummy has not been conclusively proved to cause any speech problems, or to delay language in infants. There are two conflicting studies about whether the use of a dummy, or finger sucking, causes increased instances of speech disorders if used until the age of 3. One thing is for sure however, if your baby has a dummy or a thumb in their mouth, they are unlikely to attempt to make sounds as often, and may miss out on some of the practice they would otherwise have.

There will always be conflicting opinions and changing attitudes to what is “right” and “wrong” when it comes to child language development. Take on board what is said and advised but be aware that not everything is gospel and your children will develop at their own rate. If you are concerned, then seek the advice of a speech and language therapist rather than the assumptions of friends and family, however well meant

Lotte xo 
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