Es normal el desarrollo del lenguaje de mi hij@?

Is my child’s language development normal?

Language is the main form of communication between people. This article will focus on spoken language.

The first three years of life are fundamental for its development as the brain is in the process of maturing and is when it is in an optimal state for the acquisition of these skills.

Among language disorders, we can differentiate between receptive (comprehension difficulties), expressive (production difficulties), and processing disorders.

Regular development of oral language in a kid:

Between zero and four months, babies are usually calmed by their mother’s voice and show a clear interest in other people’s faces. On the other hand, they can express different things through crying, such as for food or comfort. Crying is one of the first acts of communication because through it they learn that they can alter their environment. In addition to crying, they begin to smile socially and laugh.

At six months, they can respond to their name, follow auditory stimuli with their eyes and begin to babble and vocalize. This is followed by the understanding of verbal routines, such as «bye-bye» and pointing and saying first words, which usually happens around nine months. At around twelve months, infants can follow a verbal command and produce three meaningful words (e.g. «mommy», «daddy», «water»).

At fifteen months, children can identify their body parts when asked about them (asked «where are your legs?» the child will be able to point at them). In terms of expression, they acquire more vocabulary.

Between eighteen and twenty-four months, they will be able to recognize their body parts, as well as to follow simple verbal commands. Production is characterized by an increase in the number of words they use, they have a vocabulary of around 50 words and can make two-word combinations («more bread»). In addition, they know their name and can use it.

From twenty-four to thirty-six months, children understand and carry out complex verbal commands and can make three-word sentences. In addition to this, they can use the interrogative particle «what» to formulate questions. They also begin to use pronouns such as «you» or «I», understand «you», «me» or «she», and respond to simple questions.

Between 36-48 months, understanding of actions and the use of the question «why?». Between 48-60 months, children can understand everything that is said to them, as well as generate complete sentences and tell stories. At this stage, they understand spatial terms such as «behind» or «beside». Errors in long and complex words such as «hippopotamus» are considered typical, but a person outside the child’s immediate family can understand and carry on a conversation with the child.

Finally, by the age of six, they can understand and carry out commands of all complexity and have the ability to express themselves without making errors related to the articulation of sounds as well as narrate events and make-up stories.

The typical development of a child’s language in the different stages of childhood has been described above.

Red flags:

There are a series of red flags that will allow us to identify whether the child’s language is as expected for his or her age or if, on the other hand, a specialist should be consulted.

Between the first and fourth months, the presence of a bizarre cry and the absence of a social smile should draw attention.

On the other hand, between the sixth and ninth months, one should pay attention to the lack of vocalizations and babbling, as well as frequent bisyllabic words such as «mummy/daddy». 

At twelve months, the loss of already acquired skills is a warning sign.

On the other hand, at fifteen months the child should be able to point and use three-word combinations, if not, a specialist should be consulted. Another warning sign is the failure to follow simple instructions, recognize body parts, and say at least 25 words between eighteen and twenty-four months. After that, at thirty-six months, they should be using two-word sentences and following two-command instructions.

From thirty-six to forty-eight months, the use of incorrect words or the replacement of one word with another should be brought to our attention. Finally, from forty-eight months to six years, inappropriate use of speech, i.e. the presence of speech with errors in the production of sounds, as well as the inability to tell a story or follow a conversation, is considered alarming.

In conclusion, although each child’s development is unique, a certain age must correspond to the achievement of defined milestones. If this is not the case, it would be advisable to consult a speech therapist who will be able to resolve any doubts or concerns.

AGE

RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE

EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE

RED FLAGS

0-4m

Are calmed by the mother’s voice.

Crying, social smile, and laugh.

Bizarre cry.

Absence of social smile.

6m

Respond to their name.

Follow auditory stimuli with their eyes.

Babbles.

Lack of vocalizations and babbling.

9m

Verbal routines like “bye-bye”.

First words.

Lack of bisyllabic words like “mummy/daddy”.

12m

Follow verbal commands.

Produce three meaningful words.

Loss of already acquired skills.

15m

Identification of body parts.

More vocabulary.

Not pointing and using the three-word combination.

18-24m

Recognize body parts, follow simple verbal commands, and recognize their name

Increase in the number of words (around 50).

Use their name and make two-word combinations

Failure to follow simple instructions, recognize body parts, and have a vocabulary of 25 words.

24-36m

Understand complex verbal commands.

Understand pronouns (“you”, “me”, or “she”).

Make three-word sentences.

Questions with “what”.

Use pronouns (“you” or “I”).

Respond to simple questions.

Failure to use two-word sentences and following two-command instructions.

36-48m

Comprehension of actions.

Questions with “why”.

Use of incorrect words.

48-60m

They understand everything.

Produce complete sentences and tell stories.

Presence of sound errors.

Inability to tell a story or follow a conversation.