A Child’s First Words

It seems like one of the greatest event that a parent looks forward to is when their child learns to speak.  According to Laura Berk, the author of our textbook, at around two months babies start to make noises.  These vowel-like noises, are referred to as cooing because of the “oo” quality.  As a few months pass, babies begin to babble.  Babbling occurs when consonants are added, leading to the baby beginning to link consonants and vowels together.  By ten months, language begins to reflect patterns of the infant’s language community, which eventually is transformed into the child’s first words.

Even though they are so little, it’s important to be patient with them.  It may take a few months of the child struggling and experimenting with sounds and syllables before they speak.  Typical time frame for children is somewhere between 9-14 months.  Some may be slower and could take up to 18 months.  Some may wonder how they can speed this process up.  Language acquisition starts at birth as children listening closely to the words their parents and those around them say.  By about 6 months, most babies start to actually understand individual words.  Most common words recognized are names, foods, and certain objects such as their favorite toys.

This process can be somewhat different with babies that are deaf or hearing impaired.  Although all babies start babbling around the same time, for language to develop beyond babbling, babies must hear human speech.  There are methods that have been developed in recent years to help those born deaf.  One five-month-old baby born deaf had a cochlear implant that converted sounds into a signal that would be recognized by the auditory nerve.  This surgery was a success and the child mirrored other children of the same age in language development when reaching three years old.  This surgery was necessary at such a young age because if children do not have auditory input by age 2, they will fall behind in language development.

Post’s Author:
I am Ryan Van Wagenen.  I will graduate from the University of Utah with an Economics degree and a Psychology minor.  Upon graduation in May 2010, I will move to start work at Citi based out of the New York office.  At some point, I hope to move to Europe and get some finance experience in London.  I also hope to continue to participate in philanthropy throughout my life.  Over the past few years, I’ve been able to be involved with the Prostate Cancer Foundation based out of Los Angeles.  PCF has done some great things and is making strides to cure cancer.


~ by Ryan Van Wagenen on November 2, 2009.

3 Responses to “A Child’s First Words”

  1. That is incredible that a hearing implant can be placed that young! That definitely gives a chance for the hearing impaired to be able to hopefully speak.
    Rebekah Pinegar

  2. I’m sure you would be surprised that the deaf community feels differently about cochlear implant’s. According to CBS news, they said, “The deaf community is a culture. They’re much like the culture of the Hispanic community, for example, where parents who are Hispanic, or shall we say deaf, would naturally want to retain their family ties by their common language, their primary language, which is either Spanish or in our case its American Sign Language,” Quite interesting huh, well, obviously the baby doesn’t know the difference and the parents who can hear feel strongly about the baby hearing, so ultimately when it comes to infants, its best to have this procedure done, but with an older deaf person or a deaf person family of some sort, they might disagree, which seems a little odd…


  3. I know! I also think it is so amazing that infants can have hearing implants put in at such a young age. Reuben, I liked your comment on the deaf community being a culture. I think deciding on whether or not to go the route of the implants is a huge decision for parents to make. Thank you both for the comments!

    Ryan Van Wagenen

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