A commonly held belief is that twin children develop their own separate and exclusive communication, however the research doesn’t really back this up. Twins’ tendency to babble to each other in what sounds like their own language has more to do with the close contact they have had since birth – they are incredibly responsive to each other’s attempts to interact.
Statistically, twins are at a greater risk of language delay. Studies suggest that twins might be more sensitive to factors affecting language development with two of these factors including prematurity and low birth weight.
As a mother to twin toddlers, you have had an incredibly busy 18 months (I take my hat off to you – one baby at a time is hectic enough!) – you have been so attentive to your girls’ daily needs and their unique ways of communicating that the twins may not yet realise that they can use sound, gestures and words to be understood by others.
There are many ways that you can encourage your twins to use more words. The Hanen language centre developed a language strategy called OWL+R which stands for Observe, Wait, Listen then Respond. This begins by being face-to-face with your children so you can observe them fully and notice what they are interested in and what they may be trying to tell you. Stop talking, lean forward and look expectantly to let your children know when it is their turn to communicate. Respond to all sounds, gestures and word attempts by interpreting (in short, simple phrases) what you think they are trying to say.
I encourage you to try OWLing to create moments of connection and communication throughout the day with your girls. If you are still unsure how the twins language is developing over the next 2-3 months I suggest you contact a local Speech Pathologist who can offer more individualised strategies to support their development.
18 months of age is a time of exciting brain development. The girls are becoming more aware of their world and they are seeking increased independence – this may temporarily alter sleeping and eating patterns which us why your children may be uneasy or unsettled. Please see your GP if this uneasiness persists more than a few days to rule out underlying medical conditions.