Baby’s language and speech development.


Before reading this section it is advisable to read the section titled ENJOYING SOUNDS, MUSIC AND LANGUAGES. Baby’s ability to speak and sing is in many ways based on how well she enjoys and experiences sounds, music and languages. 

Baby’s OMSDEP. Her language and speech intentions:

Baby wants to listen to all the sounds in her environment and understand what they mean and how they fit together. 

When baby feels like crying she wants to be made safe and to be allowed to cry naturally without interruption while she heals from her hurting experience. 

Baby gets ready:

It would be very unusual for baby to speak for at least six months yet, but the foundations for speaking are being laid down from birth, and perhaps even before birth. Baby can hear from at least the time of birth and she is gathering language information throughout every moment of every day when people are talking within her hearing range. Her hearing range, incidentally, is not much less than an adult’s. 

Compared to adults baby has an extraordinary ability to learn facts, and her brain quickly grows and organises itself to process those facts and remember them for future reference. Everything she hears, be it humans speaking their native language, dogs barking or music playing will pass into her brain to be used as part of her speaking OMSDEP; to help her to learn to speak. 

At this stage baby’s own self development and education program to learn to speak is twofold:

She is listening to all that is said and is organising and storing information about language in her brain. 

She is also learning to use her lungs to push air up through her neck and out of her mouth. Simultaneously she is learning to adjust her throat, tongue and mouth to make the air vibrate as sound.

Listening and crying:

At this stage, during the first month after birth, baby is more involved in point one above: Listening to, organising and storing information in preparation for speech. She demonstrates less interest in point two at this stage but she is, nevertheless, still practicing making sounds when she cries for food when she is hungry or needs other attention. Of course, baby does not simply decide to cry when she wants to practice making sounds. But when she does need to cry, and does so, she begins to develop the ability to make sounds when she wants to. At this very fundamental level (hunger and safety needs) she soon learns that her cry for food or help works well as, for most children, a parent soon responds. When it first occurs her crying is possibly from fear that she does not have food, but in time she will learn that crying and other sounds are useful forms of language that indicate her needs. 

Even though baby learns that crying brings loving support, an important point that should be made here is that baby will not cry unless she has a need to cry. Contrary to some opinions, it is highly unlikely that any child under age three has ever been able to decide to cry, except when they actually have a real need for food or other attention. Children do not use crying to manipulate adults. But some children and adults from about age 12 months and into adulthood do use what is sometimes called whining, whingeing or sulking to manipulate others. There is more information about the subject of crying and needs in the book “Magnificent Behaviour”. 

The road ahead:

Learning to speak is a complex process and baby must learn a good deal about sounds, words and the meanings of words before she learns to speak well. When she begins to speak in 6 to12 months time baby must accurately remember how she has heard her native language spoken, and she should also understand what the language means. She must then send the right amount of air from her lungs to her mouth while using her vocal cords, tongue and lips to make the correct sound. Whilst doing this she must monitor the sounds she produces to ensure they are the right sounds. She completes her monitoring by using her sense of hearing and her sense of touch (feeling the speech vibrations). She checks that the sounds she hears and feels are equal to, or at least very similar to, her memory of the words she has heard, and possibly felt, in the past. Her final check of how well she has spoken is to check on how well people respond to what she has said. If the people she speaks to respond by saying or showing that they understood her then she assumes she has spoken correctly. 

Listen and cry:

Learning to talk at this Level 1, then, is very much a matter of being able to listen to high quality speech and of being able to cry freely. As stated above crying allows children to test out how sounds are made by expressing air from the lungs. Further, crying actually contributes to lung growth and lung control as the lungs are exercised in a variety of ways when baby is crying. Crying is a healthy practice and does not hurt baby. The cause of tears (such as hunger, pain or fear) might hurt baby and should be dealt with but the crying itself is actually good for baby: That is one reason why she does it. This is not to say that we should try to make baby cry, far from it. Magnificent parents want baby to be constantly happy, but there will be times when she will need to cry and when she cries at those times she will also be developing her ability to talk. There is more information about crying in the book “Magnificent Behaviour”. For the moment though it is worthwhile to note that crying is good for baby and, under most circumstances, should be permitted without trying to stop her from crying. It is very important though to stop the source of baby’s pain whether it be a bumped head (give appropriate medical attention), a need for food (feed her) or a frightening experience (stop the frightening experience). Hug her and wait.

Speaking two or more languages.

If you wish to teach baby a second, third or fourth language then set aside one or two days each week for the other languages and do the following Level 1 activities for the second, third or four languages in the same way as you do them for the first language. Now is the time to begin creating a multilingual environment for baby if you are multilingual yourself or if you have the opportunity to expose her to other languages. Baby will develop the brain structure required to speak more than one language far more easily during her first three years of life than ever again. When she is an older child or a university student learning languages can be far more difficult than if she begins now. Many, many children learn to speak their native language simply by hearing it spoken each day. Hearing well spoken languages repeated on a regular basis is all that baby requires to learn to speak those languages herself. 

There is more information about teaching additional languages in the section titled “ENJOYING SOUNDS, MUSIC AND LANGUAGES” and in the book “Magnificent Language”.

Activities for parents and babies:

A list of Magnificent Parenting activities follows. These are practical activities for children to do with their parent’s help. Natural Parenting parents create the environment baby requires to complete her OMSDEP.  In many cases, these activities are the environment required and, after commencement, promote baby’s excellent natural development. 

The activity list sometimes includes extracts of preceding sections as well as new information. The list is intended for use as a day to day checklist for quick and easy reference but, to fully understand and participate in the activities, parents may need to re-read the entire Level, or other parts of this book, from time to time.

Do the activities below for the first language you would like baby to speak. Set aside a day or two (or three) for any additional languages you would like baby to speak and use only one language on each day. Alternatively try to mix the use of all languages in approximately equal proportions throughout the day. For example, speak German during the morning, French for part of the afternoon and Swahili during the evening. It matters little though if you also speak just a few sentences or paragraphs of Swahili during the morning French period, or if you put just a few sentences of either French, Swahili or German in with each other. Avoid though, speaking a sentence with words from more than any one language mixed together. To do so can cause baby some difficulty when she begins to speak to others who are monolingual and they don’t understand that she is speaking mixed language sentences of German, French and Swahili. 

Play recordings of excellent speech throughout the day.  

Speak to baby frequently using excellent descriptive language.  Speak in your best language as if she is your equal and understands what you are saying as well as you do (she very well might).

Whenever the opportunity arises take her to places where she will hear excellent speaking and allow her to listen.

Don’t use ‘baby talk’.

Ensure the language baby experiences is always non-threatening, enjoyable and is seeking to achieve good for humanity. Be enthusiastic about great historic speeches, nursery rhymes and all forms of language. Create the environment for her.

If baby wants to cry and she does not need medical attention, safety or food simply hold her close to you until she stops crying. Crying is a release mechanism for her and does not of itself hurt her. Allow her to cry until she is finished. Avoid situations where other adults try to stop baby from crying: Tell baby it's OK to cry. Respect other people’s right to quiet and take baby to a private area until she has finished crying. For information about why baby cries and ways to deal with it read the book “Magnificent Behaviour”. 

What baby should be doing at this Level of development:
She should cry with gusto at birth and at other times when she has a need to cry.  

She should be able to hear.

What baby should be doing as she enters the next Level of development:

At the next level of development baby will cry with an expression of urgency in her voice if she experiences strong or sudden pain; (we hope, of course, that she doesn’t have to!). 

An average child is likely to move on to Level 2 at approximately age 2.5 months.
A child could potentially move on to Level 2 at approximately age 1 month.














BABY LEARNS TO SPEAK AND SING. Baby’s language and speech development.




Baby’s OMSDEP: Her language and speech development intentions:


  • To learn to say every word that is useful to her, perfectly. 



Learning how to say more words:  


Now that baby has learnt to speak two words in a known language she is probably aware that language consists of sounds that have meaning. In fact, she was probably well aware that spoken words have meaning long before now. Even so, she will be practicing speech now and will quite happily learn to say words of which she does not know the meaning. She will do this because she enjoys her newfound talent to mimic other people speaking in the world around her; and she enjoys being part of the human family. Also she will enjoy learning rhymes simply because she enjoys the musical sounds of words that rhyme, for example ‘true’ and ‘blue’, ‘red’ and ‘led’ or ‘tree’ and ‘bee’. Rhymes are very useful for developing pronunciation as children usually enjoy learning them and saying them. She also enjoys saying new words that are new sounds that she has never made before or that are a mixture of new sound and a sound she has made in the past.  


Learning how to pronounce words, even if she does not know their meaning, is very important for baby’s speech development from birth to six years of age. The reason why is that at some time in the future she will most likely need to be able to speak those words, and by then she will probably understand what they mean. It is important, therefore, to speak to baby using all the usual language that she needs to use as an adult. If adults limit the language they use when speaking to baby, thinking this helps her, then they will likely limit her opportunity to hear the sounds used in those words and thereby limit her ability to naturally mimic and speak them. In addition baby is also likely to learn the meaning of many words that she would otherwise not learn if you use those words. 


Speaking adult level language about things that naturally interest baby and using rhymes are two particularly effective ways by which you can help to develop baby’s ability to recognise and pronounce words. 


Learning the meaning of words: 


Concrete words:


Baby has now learnt to make at least two sounds (i.e. words) to communicate to others. She might understand what those words mean or she might not. Quite likely she understands the meaning of the two words she can say as well as the meaning of many more words that the people around her use. The words she will most easily understand are those that are technically called concrete words. Concrete words are words such as table, chair, spoon, dog, mother, father, building, concrete, TV, bed, book, spaghetti and glockenspiel. Concrete words are words that describe objects or actions that can be seen, heard, touched, smelt or tasted. Concrete words in baby’s environment are useful to her as she can ask for a chair, soft toy, macadamia nut butter, or call a person by name. Words that are not concrete words include time, rights, perception, China, experience and psychological. 


It is easy for baby to learn the meaning of concrete words as she can literally touch, see, taste, smell and hear concrete objects if they are in her environment. It can be very difficult for baby to learn the meaning of words that are not concrete and not available as concrete objects that she can taste, smell, see, hear or touch in her environment.  Therefore emphasising teaching baby concrete words is the easiest way to give her a broad vocabulary of words she can both say and understand at this Level. 


Speak to baby and ask her questions:


When you make her a meal, or give her a chair, a toy, or anything, tell baby quite clearly what you are doing. And ask her questions about what she would like you to do. Then pause and wait for an answer. For example:  


Parent says: “I am spreading macadamia nut butter on this slice of coconut flour bread for you. Then I will put it on this green plate and put it on your table. The macadamia nut butter smells like macadamia nuts and the bread is made from coconut flour. What is your favourite food?” Stop and look expectantly at baby while you wait for her to answer. Give baby 10 to 20 seconds to answer and then continue if she doesn’t answer or congratulate her and respond appropriately if she does answer. 


When baby can speak 25 words and uses one or more 2 word couplets she will move up to Level 5. When she can understand and speak 25 words and one or more 2 word couplets baby has more than a simple basic knowledge about language. She is now well aware of the meaning of many words. She also knows how to use her brain to cause her lungs to breathe out the correct volume of air with sufficient consistent power so her vocal cords vibrate making the sounds required to produce human speech. Additionally, she also knows how to use her brain to place her tongue and lips in the required positions to accurately modify the word sounds produced by her vocal cords. She has also likely learnt to inhale between words. If she has been doing the mobility, brachiation, and swimming activities her ability to breathe well and to speak well should be excellent; and therefore she should now have all the abilities required to speak well at this level. 




Activities for parents and babies:


  1. Teach baby rhymes by playing the rhyming game. How to do this is explained in Level 3.  


  1. Do not restrict your language because you think baby will understand better. Speak in adult level language but explain what you mean if baby does not understand. 


Try and spend your time among people who speak well. 


Politely interrupt people who use ‘baby talk’.  


Encourage adults to use full and excellent language at all times.  


Every day, frequently congratulate baby for speaking. 


  1. Use concrete words often every day.  


  1. Ask baby many questions that are easy for her to answer and give her 10 to 20 seconds to answer before you speak again. Always be delighted if she answers. If she makes a request try to do as she asks or give her a clearly spoken, rational, honest reason why you can’t. Much of what you say to baby should be in the form of a question rather than a statement. In the normal course of a day an adult is likely to say thousands of words, perhaps even tens of thousands of words. In the normal course of a day a parent speaking to a child at this level is likely to ask over 100 questions. Questions can include; “I’d like to put some toys in the toy box. What should I put in first? “ or “ What would you like to do right now? “


  1. Always introduce baby to other children and adults to whom you speak. Ensure that other adults and children are always introduced to baby. 


  1. Read and do the activities in the section titled “ENJOYING SOUNDS, MUSIC AND LANGUAGES”. 



What baby should be doing at this Level of development: 


  • Speaking 2 words. 


What baby should be doing as she enters the next Level of development:


  • Speaking and understanding 25 words and using one or more 2 word couplets. 



An average child is likely to move on to Level 5 at approximately age 18 months.


A child could potentially move on to Level 5 at approximately age 9 months.