Early Detection of Language Delays; Why Well-Child Visits are Important

Early Detection of Language Delays; Why Well-Child Visits are Important

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One of the hardest things for a parent is the struggle to understand what your new baby is trying to tell you. Is that a hunger cry? Or, a cry for affection? But when your baby reaches the 3-6 month mark, she is more capable of babbling, showing affection, and letting you know her needs.1 Phew!

Your baby’s language skills are growing and changing every day. But do you ever wonder if she is reaching her language development milestones as expected for her age? Having such concerns is perfectly normal, especially when it comes to language and communication. We all want our babies to develop on track, and delays in language development are the most common!2

One of the best ways to detect any form of developmental delay is to take your baby to her regularly scheduled well-child visits. This is especially important for language delays as they are most effectively treated when detected early. How your child processes sound during her first several months will affect her abilities as she grows older.3

Being able to have an open and thoughtful dialogue with your baby’s pediatrician is important, and preparing for each visit can help your pediatrician check on the subtler signs of potential delays. Because physicians often have a full schedule of appointments lined up, there may not be enough time during your visits to uncover any potential issues your baby may be experiencing, especially if she seems fine during that 20-minute (or less) appointment.

By knowing the age-appropriate developmental milestones for your baby, you can keep an eye out for any potential red flags throughout your everyday moments with her. If you notice anything that seems off, you can jot it down on your list of things to talk to your pediatrician about during your next visit. Don’t stress if there are red flags because many, if not all, will likely turn out to be nothing of serious concern! However, you’d rather be thorough and reassured than missing that one thing that could potentially affect your child’s future development, right?

What language milestones should your baby be reaching at 3-6 months? 

  • Make noises to show joy. Laughing to show pleasure and joy is a natural expression of happiness for everyone. At 3-6 months old, your child should be expressing her joy by laughing, chuckling, or squealing.
  • Babbles consonant sounds. Babbling strings of “ma,” “ba,” and “da” sounds is normal at this age, so go ahead and babble back to her to stimulate more “talking.”
  • Responds to own name. Your 3-6 month old should recognize her own name by now, looking up when she hears you calling for her.
  • Responds to conversations by making sounds. When you speak to your baby, she should be responding back to you with babbles, coos, and squeals. The more you speak to her, the more she’ll respond back!



1 Shelov, S. P. (Ed.) (2009). American Academy of Pediatrics: Caring for your Baby and Young Child – Birth to Age 5 (5 ed.). New York, NY: Bantam Books.

2 WebMD. Recognizing Developmental Delays in Children. WebMD. Retrieved March 19, 2014, from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/recognizing-developmental-delays-birth-age-2.

3 Benasich, A. A. & Tallal, P. (2002). Infant Discrimination of Rapid Auditory Cues Predicts Later Language ImpairmentBehavioral Brain Research 136(1), 31-49.

4 First Signs. Why Early ID? First Signs, Inc. Retrieved March 26, 2014, from http://www.firstsigns.org/about/earlyid.htm.

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