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’s language and speech development.




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


  • To speak perfectly every word that is useful to her. 



Learning to say more words. 


Now that toddler has learnt the basics of speech in one or more languages she is ready to extend her vocabulary from 25 words to over two thousand words. An average child can take about 18 months to increase the number of words she speaks from 10 words to 2000 words while a magnificent child can take about half that time. Two thousand words might sound like a lot of words but it is not really very many when we consider that a reasonable quality English dictionary is likely to have over fifty thousand words listed in it; and there are over 150,000 words in total the English language.


It can be difficult to count all the words toddler understands and speaks and to add them up until they total around 2000. To avoid difficulty a rough estimate is sufficient to decide when she has moved onto the next level. One way to do an estimate is to do your best to write down all the different words toddler says over a few hours, or a day, then make an educated guess at how many more words she might know. Similarly, you can make audio tape recordings of conversations with toddler and play the tape when it is convenient to count the number of different words she has spoken. Another way is to estimate when you think she can speak as well as, and use as many words as, an average 3 year old.


Frequently ask questions: 


Take toddler to as many venues, events, parks, places and live shows as possible and ask her many questions about those activities. Ask her easy to answer questions as if she is an authority on the activity even if you already know the answer.  You will probably already know the answer to most of the questions you ask her. 


What is important is to give her the opportunity to express her thoughts in speech. It is also important not to criticise her answers. If her answer to the question, “What colours can fish be? “ is, “Red and green.“ Say something like; “Red and green are lovely colours for fish.“ Definitely don’t say; “You’re wrong! Because fish can also be yellow and purple and lots of other colours.” The book “Magnificent Behaviour” provides reasons for positively supporting toddler’s answers rather than denigrating them if you do not already know why.


Some questions you might ask her are;  


“What colours can fish be? “ 


“What animals drink water?” 


“Why do you think people come here?”


“How do animals in this zoo get their food?”  


“How would you paint that painting?”  


“I wonder if bus drivers like to drive buses? What do you think?”  


“Would you like to drive a bus, a train or an elephant?”  “Why?”


“What would you like about that?”  “Why?”


A concrete word environment: 


To give toddler the opportunity to experience concrete words natural parents change the environment by taking her into a suitable environment. When parent and toddler are in a suitable environment toddler can easily learn new words and their meaning, and parents can easily ask questions that allow her to use words pertaining to the new environment. For example, if the environment is a zoo then it is easy to speak about a dugong, rhinoceros or, say, the animal carers as you and toddler observe the carers feeding them grass. Similarly, it is easy to refer to the conductor and different instruments in an orchestra if the environment is a classical music concert. Most parents find it is useful to keep a list of suitable environments in a prominent position in the family home so that children and parents can refer to it when they are needing a quick solution to the question: “What will we do now?” The lists can, of course, also be used to plan language activities, as well as science, art, general knowledge, social and other activities. 


The following list was compiled by a family for use with their child. Parents can compile their own list (perhaps with toddler’s help) and post it on a wall ready for reference when time is available to take toddler out. Having an activities list helps to provide a quick solution if it seems as though there is nothing of interest to do. 




Things to do:  


Board games.  






Garden hose.








Sand dune climb.  


Low tide sandbank play.  


Meet new friends on beach.  


Community play ground.  


Bike ride.  


Billabong swim.  


Canal swim and explore bush. 


Dig holes and build castles.


Brunswick Heads:


Explore river.


Bar B Q at park. 


Heated swimming pool.  


Unheated swimming pool. 


Watch veterinary surgery.  


Explore New Brighton mangroves at low tide.  


Oyster gathering at Harry’s head at low tide.  


Visit a friend.  


Make a cake.  


Make coconut bread.  


Make sweet potato chips.


Watch a motor mechanic or builder or other work.


Drawing; cartoons with Ed Emberly.




Listen to story tape.


Visit pathology laboratory; see bacteria.  


Visit local veterinarian; see bacteria. 


Make a kite.  


Fly a kite.  


Write to a friend.  


Telephone a friend.  


Plant flower seeds.  


Pick ripe tomatoes.


Plant vegetable seeds.


Pick ripe vegetables.


Make a clay pot.


Wider afield:  


Whale Centre.


Knockrow Nature Park.


Pioneer plantation.  




Ballina Water slide.  


Movie World.  




Wet and Wild.  


Crystal Castle.  


Tea tree plantation Ballina.


Climb Mount Warning.  


Climb Mount Chincogan.  


Indian dancing and food; Sundays. 


National forest walk


Macadamia factory


Visit factories


Activities for parents and toddlers:


  1. Take toddler to many different environments and ask her many questions as if she is an authority on that environment. Give her ample time to fully express herself when she replies to your questions. 


  1. Compile a list of many local venues, events, parks, places, shows and other activities. Post the list on a wall or other prominent position at home. Use the list as a source of different environments to which you can take toddler.  Go to each listed place and then begin to visit each place on the list again, and again, and again. Add new places to the list when possible and delete any that become unsuitable or potentially over exposed. At least twice each week (or each day if possible) choose one of the listed places and go there. The key intention here is to go to many and varied environments in which a wide range of concrete words can be used naturally and frequently. 


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


Politely interrupt people who use ‘baby talk’.  


Encourage adults to use full and excellent language.  


Every day, frequently congratulate toddler for speaking. 


  1. Teach toddler using the Magnificent Knowledge activities. 


  1. Try teaching toddler using the Magnificent Reading activities.  




What toddler should be doing when she enters this Level of development: 


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


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


  • Speaking and understanding 2000 or more words. 



An average child is likely to move on to Level 6 at approximately age 36 months.


A child could potentially move on to Level 6 at approximately age 18 months