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Developmental Milestones: Understanding words, behavior, and concepts

Developmental Milestones: Understanding words, behavior, and concepts



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Published by Tracy
Speech milestones for children 0-36 months old. Gives parents tips about what to look for and how to help develop their child's speech.
Speech milestones for children 0-36 months old. Gives parents tips about what to look for and how to help develop their child's speech.

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Tracy on Nov 03, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Developmental milestones: Understanding words, behavior, andconcepts
Reviewed by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory BoardLast updated: July 2006
Understanding words, behavior, and concepts
Your newborn can't yet speak your language or fully understand what you're saying tohim, but he's a fast learner. Research shows that babies start listening to their parents'voices while still in the womb. Once born, your baby begins tuning in to your words andsentence patterns to figure out what you're saying. He also uses his powers of observationto learn about some of the more complicated things — like love, trust, time, and causeand effect — that exist in his physical and emotional world.
When it develops
Your baby starts to learn what others are saying and doing even before he's born. As anewborn, he doesn't know the precise meaning of the words you use, but he picks up onyour emotions — such as happiness, sadness, love, concern, anxiety, and anger. By thetime he's 4 months old, he'll recognize his own name, and by 8 to 12 months he'llunderstand simple requests such as "No" or "Don't touch." Around 24 months, he'll beable to talk to you in two- or three-word phrases. By 3, he'll have a vocabulary of severalhundred words and a pretty good sense of some of the rituals and activities of everydaylife, such as food shopping, telling time, and housecleaning.
How it develops
Newborn to 1 month
Every waking moment, your baby is using his senses to take in new data about the worldhe finds himself in. He doesn't yet have the information that adults and older children useto interpret what they take in, but he's building that store of knowledge every day. Manyexperts say babies understand more than most parents think they do.As a survival skill, your baby stays emotionally attuned to the people around him. He canunderstand how you feel and what you're thinking by the tone of your voice, the set of your mouth, the pace of your breathing, the feel of your skin, and the glint in your eye.Your baby will form his version of reality from the way you respond to him — decidinghe's worthwhile because you come to him when he cries, stare lovingly into his eyes, andfeed him when he's hungry.As your baby's motor skills advance, his memory will get better, his attention span willlengthen, his ability to speak will improve, and his social skills will become more polished.
2 to 3 months
Your baby continues to soak up everything in his environment. His favorite activity iswatching what goes on around him, and he understands now that you will soothe, feed,and play with him when he needs you. He'll delight you with his first genuine smile. Your  baby enjoys the response he elicits with his grin and comes to understand that smiling isone way to let you know he's satisfied. By 3 months, he'll add some gurgling sounds tohis smile, initiating a primitive form of conversation with you.
4 to 7 months
Your baby knows his name now and understands that you're speaking to him when yousay it. He'll even respond by turning toward you. He's becoming more attuned to your tone of voice, too. When you sound happy, he'll react joyfully, and if you speak to himsharply he'll become distressed and may cry. He's also beginning to tell the difference between strangers and people he knows, and he may cry when you put him in the arms of someone he doesn't recognize.
8 to 12 months
Your baby's beginning to understand simple requests. Say "no" when he tries to touch anelectrical outlet, for example, and he'll pause and look at your face — maybe even shakehis head "no" in return.He's also testing your responses to his behavior. He'll throw food on the floor just to seewhat you'll do, and then file your response in his memory bank. Later he'll test the watersagain to see whether you react the same way.
12 to 18 months
By 18 months, your baby should be able to understand and may use at least 50 words. (Ingeneral he'll understand a word before he's able to say it himself.) And he'll be able tofollow your directions, even if they involve two separate actions — for example, "Pick upthose building blocks and put them in the toy chest."
19 to 23 months
Your child is beginning to understand that his wants may not necessarily converge withyours. He'll try to assert himself — folding his arms resolutely under his armpits whenyou want him to hold your hand, for example.He's also starting to understand simple concepts such as space and dimension. This meanshe can probably put together a basic puzzle now, and he knows the difference between atriangle and a square and can place each shape in its appropriate spot in a shape-sorter.He's also figuring out cause and effect: He knows that when he pulls the lever on his jack-in-the-box, for example, a clown pops out. This new skill will come in handy down theroad when he's ready totoilet train.Before your child can give up his diapers for good, he has to make the connection between the need to empty his bowels and using the potty. He'll also understand that when
he pulls the handle to flush, his urine and bowel movements will disappear down thedrain. The process starts all over again the next time he feels like going to the bathroom.When he sees how proud you are of his attempts to use the toilet, he'll be even more eager to try it again.
24 to 36 months
By now your child has a pretty good understanding of language. Development experts saymost 2-year-olds understand at least 150 words and add 10 new ones to their vocabularynearly every day. Since language acquisition has become practically second nature, your child can now turn his attention to more complicated concepts that involve emotions.Between the ages of 2 and 3, your child will understand the basic building blocks of relationships: love and trust. He knows that you and the rest of the family care for himand are on his side. He's learned these important concepts by the way you've treated himin the first few years of his life. By showering him with affection, responding to hisneeds, and keeping him safe, you've helped him become a secure and optimistic child.By watching you go about your day, your toddler begins to comprehend some of the morecomplicated aspects of everyday life, too, such as food shopping, telling time, andhousecleaning. He's also gaining a deeper understanding of how he should treat other  people. If you want him to grow up to become a kind and helpful person, make sure youtreat him and others that way.
What comes next
The number of words your child can understand and say will continue to grow rapidly. Bythe age of 6, most children have a vocabulary of nearly 13,000 words. In the next fewyears, he'll begin to comprehend ever more complex ideas and situations, such as basicmath, telling right from wrong, and how to predict what will happen in the future.
Your role
Talking andreadingto your child will help him learn good communication skills. Studieshave shown that children who are read to every day starting at around 6 months havemore advanced communication abilities. But you might as well get in the habit of readingto your child before six months go by. Why not start in the first few weeks? Althoughyour child won't understand the words or be able to follow a story, he'll grasp that readingis pleasurable, calming, and a nice way to spend time with you.Playingwith your child will help him learn more about the way the world works.Challenge him withage-appropriate toys and games to encourage his mental and physical development.Be affectionate and show your child how much you love and care for him. That's the best

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