What to Expect When
Your Child Doesn't Talk
October 9, 2017
You know what to expect when you're expecting. You've spent 9 months reading all the right parenting books and blogs, you've followed the most perfectly chic and put-together parents' Instagram accounts, and sat through countless baby showers listening to unsolicited advice. You're expecting the sleepless nights. You're expecting the countless dirty diapers. And then, your life changes in the most miraculous way, and you're a parent. No more anticipating. No more expecting. Your baby has arrived. You're a parent. And, as amazing as it is, it's quite possibly more difficult than you expected.
Let's talk about what to expect when you're a parent in the thick of it. A parent of a baby who won't take a bottle. Won't sleep. Won't crawl. Won't Talk. Hasn't said a word. Or doesn't say more than 5 words.... Why didn't you expect any of this? Even with all the standard handouts from your pediatrician. Why didn't you see this coming? When did "what to expect" turn from glitter and fairy tales to parent guilt and 1am sleepless nights worrying? This constant concern and worry, on repeat, "Am I doing enough? Am I doing it right? Am I reading my child enough books? Am I reading the right books? Should my child be able to do this? Is there something wrong? Why. Isn't. My. Child. Talking?!"
You question every babble out of your child's mouth, "Did he just say mama?" You hope and pray for those sweet babbles to turn into words.
When did you start to worry? Was it at your child's one year appointment, when the pediatrician asked you to count and list the words your child was saying? Or was it when you started to notice children your child's age were talking more?
When did you go from photographing first smiles to laying awake worrying about your child's future social and academic success?
Talking is one of the most complex motor tasks your body has to perform. Imagine tying a cherry stem in your mouth, all those small complex movements needed to complete the task. That is how difficult learning to talk is for your baby. From their lips to their cheeks to the tips of their tongues, it all has a part in shaping those first words. Your baby's tongue, a tongue whose only job up until this point has been to stimulate a nipple to drink warm milk or sloppily explore toys, now has to move from one corner of the mouth to the other in a split second just to
create simple speech sounds. And that's just the tongue's job. The lips, cheeks, jaw, palate, and teeth are all involved in creating those sweet first words. And beyond all of the coordinated oral motor movements, he also has to control his breath to create steady vocalizations (as compared to those short shrieks of joy he's used to making).
Talking is hard work. We don't expect babies to go from tummy time to walking in a short amount of time. Why do we expect words to just magically appear?
We foster our child's physical development with strict tummy time sessions and use an assortment of playmats and walkers. Look around the next time you are in your local Target. You will see colorful toys, cute blankets, the classic children's books, and children's books written by celebrities. Where are all of the break-through speech and language development toys and books? Tablets, apps, and "Baby Genius" videos do not count. Despite their claims, screen time could be detrimental to your baby's speech development. Nothing can replace the interaction that occurs when a book is read to a child. Babble Books is the only product on the market that specifically fosters speech development by targeting speech sounds in the order in which they are most commonly acquired.
You will probably hear other parents tell you that "It'll come" as they explain that their child didn't talk until he was 2.5 years old. And although that may have been the case for their child, the wait and see approach is a risky game to play. As tempting as it is to compare your child to the others, it's not fair to you or your child. Your child is a unique person with his own strengths and weaknesses. Think about it, some things come easier to you than others. Think of how quickly you pick up a new skill. Do you struggle at times? Yes, probably. Do you persevere? Hopefully. Are there times that you need support? Yes. Your child is no different. Sometimes children need more support as they learn to talk. Refer to the guidelines from The American Speech and Hearing Association regarding when a speech therapy referral is warranted.
When your child doesn't talk... You will worry. You will work with them. You may need to seek professional support. But get this- You will be ok. Your child will be ok. And guess what, you are not alone. At this very moment, another parent is worrying about the same thing.
So, what do you do? Refer to the content provided here on the Babble Books website. Start in on Babble Books Stage One, modeling the most basic speech sounds in simple words. A child naturally wants to do whatever is easiest to get what is desired. Without speech, getting a message across can be a difficult and frustrating task. Maybe tantrums are working right now, but they take a lot of energy. Demonstrate more appropriate ways to communicate. Watch for and support nonverbal communication- facial expressions, gestures, and pointing. Fill your days with speech and language, name everything and describe what you are doing. Make it fun. Have a conversation with your child, modeling back and forth interaction by responding to their facial expressions and babbles.
Do all of this and more with confidence while knowing that your child is trying his hardest and to the best of his ability to communicate with you. Do not pressure your child to talk and always celebrate the little victories. Above all, know that your child is doing his best, just as you are.