Your health:

Talking about talking

 By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Fortunately, and possibly because I natter on constantly to him, Ben's speech seems pretty advanced for his age, or at least nothing to worry about. There are a few words his mispronounces - such as "wadigal" for triangle - which I find endearing.

But a couple of my friends have had concerns about their little ones' language skills. As with any other area of development, there is a wide range of what's considered normal for each age group.

However, work is currently being done to create an up-to-date tool for assessing babies' and toddlers' progress in communicating. Dr Katie Alcock of Lancaster University is collaborating with other language development specialists on the "first ever UK based language tool to decode baby talk".

Their project, funded by a 358,000 UK pound grant, sets out to create a tool that compares children aged eight months to 18 months against national averages for similarly-aged children.

This "could radically improve the diagnosis of language delays", say the psychologists, who believe there is currently no similar, easy to use tool for UK health professionals. It will also take into account various English dialects, explains Dr Alcock.

She says: "It is crucial to know what a 'typical' child can do in order to ensure that teachers, doctors, speech and language therapists, and policy makers are properly informed. Most language milestones occur in the first few years of life, so it is vital that we find out what these typical levels are for very young children.

"When complete, this new research will directly improve the UK research on child speech and language development and make a substantial contribution to the wellbeing of children and families in the UK."

Parents with a child under 18 months, who might want to take part in the study, can email

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