While it is common for girls to start talking before boys, boys should still hit most of the major developmental milestones regarding speech and language around the same time as their female counterparts do. However, the instance of language delays is higher in boys than girls, most likely due to exposure to higher amounts of testosterone while they are developing. Because boys may be at higher risk for language delays, it is important that the parents of boys remain aware of how they can support their child's language patterns.
Talk to Your Baby Boy Often
Studies have shown that mothers tend to speak to baby girls more often than they speak to baby boys. This could be because baby girls make more eye contact and share attention with adults better than newborn boys, or it could be due to social stereotypes about girls being more social than boys. Whatever the reason, the lack of speech around birth can be the reason why boys often hit language milestones after girls. To prevent this and give your boy the best chance for developing his language, make sure that you speak to him often.
Use Parentese to Converse With Your Boy
Parentese is the way that parents and caregivers naturally interact with babies. It involves pitching your voice up slightly, elongating vowels, emphasizing consonants, and repeating words and phrases. This is important because it allows your baby to hear language more clearly and understand it more easily. However, if you are the parent of a boy, you may be tempted to speak with them more gruffly or with a lower tone in order to introduce him to "manly" speech patterns. Avoid this and continue using parentese instead.
You can speak parentese to your boy well into their toddler years, however, as they begin to speak, your language should shift gradually to a more adult tempo and tone.
Contact a Language Development Specialist if You Notice a Delay
If you think that your boy may have a language development delay, it is important to contact a language development specialist, like Evergreen Speech & Hearing Clinic, Inc., as soon as possible. If he is not hitting normal milestones, you should not assume that he is just slow because he is a boy. Instead, talk to your pediatrician about scheduling language testing for your son. Early intervention can make overcoming language delays easier for children.
If you have a boy, it is important that you pay special attention to their language development and assist them when necessary.