Mother and Baby

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t say hello at 7 weeks old

Development milestones

If you’ve seen the video of the 7-week-old saying hello, don’t worry if your little one doesn’t compare with this early development.

As little Cillian McCann says his first words – ‘hello’ – his proud parents film every moment. So far so normal. Except Cillian is just seven weeks old. 

‘If I hadn’t have videoed it I’m sure people wouldn’t have believed me,’ said his mum Toni McCann from Ireland after the video of her son speaking went viral.

“I have three older girls and never experienced this with them”

‘I don’t think I would have believed it myself! He was trying to speak for a while. I have three older girls and never experienced this with them, although I think I probably just talked “at” them and didn’t give them space to respond. I’ve read that babies communicate from a young age and to give them space to answer.’  

While it’s an adorable video, does it mean we should be doing more to help our little ones talk – or worry they’re not as advanced as Cillian? 

‘Of course we shouldn’t worry or compare what other people’s babies and children are doing – although every parent does it!’ says parenting psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer, author of new book Play: Fun Ways To Help Your Child Develop In The First Five Years (Vermilion). 

“Parents worry hugely about when their children reach milestones”

‘Parents worry hugely about when their children reach milestones, especially compared to their little friends. But one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is to write down a reminder in your diary to worry about it in, say, three months. So if your little one’s speech seems slow compared to your friend’s baby, write it down and then don’t think about it. When the three months is up, revaluate things.

‘Children develop at vastly different rates and you’ll be amazed how much things change. If there is still a delay, see your GP. This way, you’re dealing with potential problems without stressing about them every day.’ 

“Don’t second-guess what they want – instead, make them ‘ask’ for it”

As for speech, Dr Gummer recommends the following to help your little one along: ‘Don’t second-guess what they want – instead, make them ‘ask’ for it. For example, rather than giving them a beaker of water when you know they’re about to become thirsty, point to it and say, “Do you want your water?” Over time they’ll learn to ask for things, rather than never having to because it’s always available. 

‘The same goes for crawling and walking. Put toys slightly out their reach. Not so much they get upset, but just as gentle encouragement.’ 

Dr Gummer says it’s also worth remembering that while you may look at other babies and worry that they’re talking, walking or sleeping better than yours, other parents will be looking at your child and thinking the same.

Lastly, here’s a quick guide to development milestones. However, remember that not all children develop at the same rate and to always speak to your GP or health visitor if you have any concerns. 

  • Newborn – your baby can see for a distance of around 20-30cm at this stage. 
  • 2-3 months – your baby will be making eye contact by now, will have better head control and may be gently kicking and wriggling and batting things away with her hands. 
  • 4-7 months – she’ll take objects, like a blankie, but will drop things too. She’ll have good head control and will track people with her eyes.
  • 8-12 months – her pincer grip will be developing, meaning she can pick up small objects with thumb and forefinger. She may wave, cruise around furniture and say ‘Mama’ or ‘Dada’. She may be crawling or walking. 
  • 12-18 months – she’ll probably walk during this time and may learn to throw a ball and scribble with a crayon. She may be able to say up to 20 recognisable single words, like ‘cat’ or ‘milk’.
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