At nine months my oldest child said his first word - dog. It sounded more like "gog", but still it was a word, and I was overjoyed. By 13 months he could say much more words than other babies his age; digger, baby, apple, pear, mummy, daddy, grandma; the list goes on. By two he was talking like a much older child with a wide and varied vocabulary. I could only attribute this to the constant chatter that flowed between he and I, the various groups I took him to, and his own temperament.
Our second child was a different story. A very strong baby with muscles that could give you a black eye if he caught you with his powerful feet, all he was interested in was how to get from A to B. Time seemed to pass so quickly and before I knew it he was rolling around, then crawling, then walking, all before he was 12 months. Around this time I started to wonder when he would say his first words, as he was not saying anything at all. I realised this was quite normal, as my older son had actually been such an early talker (but a late walker).
The months rolled on and still he wasn't saying anything. I worried that I didn't have the same amount of time to devote to him as I now had two children, and my older son was very talkative and demanding of my attention. I started to get worried, and luckily this coincided with my older son starting school, so I now had some 1:1 time with my younger son. I enrolled him in some singing classes where at first he was quite shy and not at all keen to join in. After a few weeks he started clapping to the music and to my amazement sang the word, "star" to "twinkle twinkle little star". It was his first word!
Here are some of the other things we tried to encourage him to speak:
- Sang songs and pretended to forget words so he would fill them in.
- Look at him and make eye contact when speaking so he can see the shape of your mouth as you form words.
- Praise them enthusiastically when they make any sort of noise at all that might be part of a word.
- Read lots of books together and point to familiar objects, saying the name of it.
- Just babble on to your child, saying anything at all that comes to mind! During car journeys point to trains, other cars, trucks and motorbikes and say the word.
- Point to objects around the house regularly saying their names.
- Gauge what your child is interested in and focus on that. My son really liked Thomas and Friends so we spent lots of time saying the names of the engines.
- Above all, try not to worry too much, it will come in the end! There aren't many adults that can't speak are there?