Even a New Born Baby has Expressive Language Skills
When a new born baby makes its’ first cry, it is demonstrating expressive language skills. A new born baby can express themselves by making sounds that “tell” you that they are experiencing pleasure, hunger or pain. A baby between birth and 3 months starts to smile in response to voices when spoken to. They are communicating to you! They are saying “I hear you and I like hearing you near me!” The newborn is starting the journey that allows them to develop speech and to build early receptive language skills.
It is important for parents and carers to recognise the early expressive language skills of the baby.
The way people around the baby react to their early communication attempts can influence the baby’s speech and language development.
Even between 4 & 6 months of age a baby is communicating in SO many ways.
|The baby is expressing to you:|
|Looks or turns towards a new sound||I am listening and wondering what those noises are|
|Startles to a loud voice or noise||That was a bit scary or unexpected|
|Stops or shows a sad face if you say “no” or use a gruff voice||I know you didn’t like that|
|Baby uses differing sounds, looks at things and back to you, and uses “speech-like babble” that gets more urgent if you are not noticing them.||These sounds or gestures tell you they want something, or want you to do something – expressive language in the absence of true speech.|
|Begins to copy and repeats easy to say sounds (eg aarrh, oooh, bar-bar-bar)||Copying your sounds tells you they have heard you and want to join in on the conversation|
From 7-12 months
A baby’s expressive language skills move from predominantly crying to tell you what they want or feel to using increasingly more complex babble strings. Now the baby can “ask you” to look at them and say, “look what I’ve got or what I am doing” by using a range of sounds, intonation patterns and gestures. The baby has very complex expressive language skills even before first words emerge!
With increasing motor skills
A baby can go from reaching to show you what they want, to pointing to what they want to taking your hand & leading you to you what they want! The power of the point cannot be underestimated as a form of non-verbal language that can express a range of communication intents.
A Babies First words
First Words then typically appear around the 12-month mark. A baby can use these first words to express a large range of ideas and needs. First words can be used as a request (ball?), a comment (ball!!!), social interactions (bye) and even to reject something (No-No).
From 12 months
Through to Toddlerhood the baby acquires new words at an astonishing rate. Their expressive language matures so they can begin to combine these new words to communicate more and more sophisticated ideas.
Some early Red Flags for expressive language in babies:
|BY 6 months||No big smiles or warm expressions when interaction with someone else|
|By 9 months||No early turn taking – you make a sound, smile, a pretend gasp or a facial expression and they try it too.|
|By 12 months||No babbling No social intent to communicate with others eg No pointing, showing, reaching or waving No consistent expression to you that they have heard you call their name (e.g. turn or look)|
|By 16 months||No spoken words|
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