Advice on Baby's First Words

Reporter: Shannon Samson

Fifteen-month-old Allison Holder has 12-month-old Zander Wilson beat in the language department, but she has a few months on him.

Leigh Ann Holder, Allison's mom says, "She pretty well can say anything we say when she wants to. It's a choice of when she wants to and when she doesn't want to kind of thing."

Pediatricians say most kids will start saying words between the ages of 9 months and a year. But some will take as long as 15 to 18 months. After that, pediatrician Dr. Andrew Jung says, "You have to wonder if there's any developmental delays in any other areas, like motor or fine motor skills. Was the baby premature? Is there a family history of speech or language disorders? Or are there concerns for ear infections?"

Dr. Jung says girls appear to have an advantage over boys, especially the really active ones. But little Zander is on the right track. Mom Crystal Wilson says, "We play with him and sing to him and his older sisters really read a lot of books to him."

Dr. Jung says kids who have older siblings to mimic usually pick up language quicker. And he says reading to babies really helps. They understand more than you might think. "Turn the TV off. We don't recommend a TV up to two years of age because some of those sounds will not be processed well. It's important to talk one on one because that's very important for speech development."

He says talking at a very young age isn't necessarily a sign of intelligence. He says it's more of an indicator at two or three if they can put words and phrases together with understanding. Until then, it's one word at a time.

Every state has a government funded early intervention program. In Indiana, it's called First Steps. A therapist will come to your house to evaluate your child's speech or motor skill development. It's free and you don't need a doctor's referral. Call 1-800-206-6610 for more information.