Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Baby milestones made easy

Note:Any queries/questions about baby/toddler speech are welcome and can be posted in comments at the end of the blog. They will be promptly answer. Please provide email address too.

A baby's first words are much awaited by parents and dear ones. Some come up with the first words quite early, while others take time. Lets briefly define the baby speech milestones and break certain myths about them too

First Words

Let me start with this. Few facts play a major role other than his personal abilities, when it comes to speaking

- How much you speak to him
- Is he in a nuclear family setting
- Does he have toddlers around him for some time, be it in parks, day home, neighborhood
The more speak to him, the faster is his vocab is likely to grow

That apart, a baby's first word may come as early as nine months, or even as late as 16-17months sometimes. The range is quite broad. It's completely normal for a baby in a nuclear setting to speak his first word at sixteen months or so. The first word could be anything : Mama, Dada,ball,bus,this,that and so on.

The Myth: a baby MUST say either Mama or dada at twelve months of age.
Not always true. I know of a number of them who did not say either till almost fifteen months.


Way before a baby says her first word, she starts expressing her needs by " POINTING" at things she likes or wants. Pointing happens to be a very important milestone. Most start pointing anywhere between ten to fourteen months.If your baby is fifteen months plus and is not pointing yet, do mention it to your pediatrician in your next appointment.

Eye Contact

Another very important milestone, one year olds must have a good and meaningful eye contact. When I say meaningful, it typically means that when child is making eye contact, it should not be looking through you. This, however, does not mean that they will make eye contact ALL the time while interacting with you. The world is new to them and everything around is a distraction.

Putting two words together

This usually comes around two years plus minus two months. Two words like " this ball" or  " want banana" help the baby express her needs better. Again, this milestone would also depend on when the child spoke her first word. If that was say at eighteen months, this too would come a little later.

Sentences and pronouns

Once again I would like to reiterate, the more you speak, the better. We often, as parents of toddlers, tend to get into a habit of speaking in tit bits: " want this?", or "want water?" Instead of a "do you want water?"

This often curbs the need to speak in full sentences.

Pronouns come anywhere between 24 to 32 months approx. The usage may not always be correct, for instance there may occasionally be reversal of pronouns like 'I' for " you" and vice versa. But this typically corrects itself by the age of three.

Sentences start with three four words like 'want to go park' to 'want to go park with papa'.

Autism scare

You search the web for your late talker and every other search suggest autism. There are certain red flags for autism other than speech delay

-little or no eye contact
- Never responding or turning around on hearing her name. However, non autistic toddlers too may not respond to their names sometimes
- no pointing at things till almost 16 months
- no first words by 22-24 months
- lack of interest in other toddlers. However a child may sometimes be too busy to do that
- lack of interest in imaginative and interactive play


Some of these pointers mentioned below are present in non autistic toddlers too

Echolalia or repetition till almost three years of age
Pronoun reversal
Lining up toys
Lack of interest in other toddlers sometimes
No sentences till almost thirty months
Not responding to his name sometimes  


  1. Hi,

    My son is 22 months old and doesn't speak much. He understands everything and does hand gestures , body language to convey but doesn't seem interested in talking at all. He did started walking and running quite early even before he turned 12 months. So my husband has this theory that since he could run and get stuffs early , he doesn't feel the need to speak.

    My doctor said usually boys speak later and I should wait till he is 2 for any real problem.

    We talk to him a lot and he is a usual kid , runs around the house , can do lots of stuff , tries to climb everything ,loves car .

    I wonder should I worry or wait.

  2. Hi,

    thanks for sharing valuable information.

    Check here to know about smiling milestones,
    when do babies start smiling | when does a baby start smiling