Delayed or On Track?

Young boy flexing musclesYou've read the books, talked to friends, watched your child around other toddlers, and now you find yourself comparing notes with friends or family about your child's development.

Are you concerned that your child may not be developmentally on track with expected toddler milestones?

Development happens at different rates and every child is unique. However, are you concerned that:

  • Your child seems to have fewer words than others his or her age?
  • Your child doesn't seem to be acquiring the gross motor skills defined as “norms” for toddlers?
  • Your child is exhibiting “different” social and emotional behaviors?

If you are concerned your child may not be meeting a milestone or milestones, it's time to take action – both for your mind and, most importantly, your child.

Early intervention is best. Many children have experienced delays or other developmental challenges. The good news? Many of them have overcome these issues and go on to be typical, healthy, and happy kids.

However, an issue that is left untreated most likely will not change itself. Although it may be difficult, perhaps even scary, to admit that your child may need help in an area of development, your child depends on you to be an effective advocate and work to make sure they can reach their fullest potential.

Where to start?

First of all, trust your instincts. There is something to that “mommy mind.” If you feel that something isn't quite on track, there are plenty of resources.

The first stop is to contact your pediatrician. This could be as simple as a phone call to discuss your concern. Remember, most times your pediatrician has only seen you and your baby for a few minutes each visit. It is important to be specific in terms of your observations and questions you have. Create a list of questions or concerns. If the symptom causing you concern is not always present, consider documenting with photos or video.

Next, your pediatrician may refer you to a specialist. Again, be “armed” and ready to discuss your concerns.

Be sure to ask the experts for other support resources. There are many local organizations within communities that are designed to work with young children and families who may be working through issues of developmental delay. Connecting with these types of organizations will not only give you more resources to help your child, but will connect you with people who can also provide support.

Don't forget what a wonderful resource the worldwide web can be. A simple search can provide you with additional information and contacts.

As you go through the above process, remember to be sensitive to your child. Although toddlers are little, they often have big ears. It's surprising what they really do understand!

Visiting doctors and other specialists may be a bit scary for you and your child.


Remain strong and supportive. Ask for support from family members or friends if/when you need it.

What do you think?

Delayed or On Track?

Tell us what you think!


  1. Elena says:

    Vocabulary skills: my daughter can only say words like momma, and dad. I don’t know what to do, since she’s 16 months old. But my cousins, and siblings were saying more at her age, so, … Please help.

    • Megan Klay says:

      Hi Elena – Every kid is different! Bring it up to her doctor at your next visit, but she’s likely just working on getting there. 🙂 Keep on reading to her and chatting with her so she absorbs language.

  2. Marilyn says:

    I think my brother is behind, he’s 4 and still not potty trained.

  3. Jessica says:

    Most early childhood educators know about a book called Developmentally Appropriate Practice. It’s published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It is very easy to read and set up in a user friendly format. I think it can be very helpful for setting up an environment to give your child(ren) that really helps them excel no matter what their level of ability. I’m a stay at home mom and I have found it’s so easy just to let things slide, but I know that the experiences I set up for my son now will have such a huge impact on the rest of his life. I’m not saying that if you don’t do this kind of stuff, you’re a bad parent. But so many other SAHMs I’ve talked to who don’t have an early childhood education background don’t really know where to start and I think this is a good resource.

  4. kelsey says:

    Both of my children are speech delayed. It’s very frustrating as a parent and you feel like you’ve done something wrong. My oldest is 4 and going to start preschool in the fall and my family keeps telling me that he is going to be made fun of. I hope they are wrong : (.

    • Angela says:

      They are wrong. My middle daughter was “talking” some when she started daycare at just over four years. But usually only I knew what she was saying. She has a REAAALLLY long tongue and it got in her way. When she started to consistently be around kids HER own age (she has an older sister with no delays) she blossomed. Within two weeks I saw a difference. Within three, even her daddy noticed. We were lucky we knew her issue was her tongue. My husband has the same tongue. If your son is on track for everything else, I wouldn’t worry. If there is anything that needs a little attention, the teachers can help. If you’re worried about his basic needs while away from you, cuz we’re moms and that’s what we do, you could teach him to sign a little. Even just the eat, drink, potty, signs might help him feel less frustrated. Good luck! Keep being your awesome mommy self and take it one day at a time.

  5. Grace says:

    not on the development thing but mommy instincts can be livesavers when it comes to health….

  6. casey says:

    Thanks for the info.

  7. ChrisS says:

    Before my turned 2, I notice he stopped talking. I mentioned it to his doctor. She send us to have him seen by the regional center early intervention. He needed speech therapy. And now that he is almost 3, he’s getting better.

  8. tammy says:

    when my son talks.. he bites his tongue.. hopefully he’ll grow out of it

  9. Kellie says:

    You may not realize it but a lot of times with second and third and so on children this happens because the older kids like to talk for them!! but if the kid is getting mad that he can’t express himself i would take him to the classes!! I have seen them help a couple kids a lot and they loved going!!

  10. Bianca says:

    My son is gonna be 3 tomorrow I am little concerned because he still has trouble talking but he does say and express how he feels should I make an appointment with his doctor ?

  11. Jo says:

    Here is a thought – my parents did not have the internet, or books and they did not fret about our development. I often wonder if we do not worry so much because we have so much more information? I am trying (and believe me I work in pediatrics so it is hard) to just let my daughter go at her own pace and not worry too much.

  12. Krystal says:

    My son has a playdate friend who is involved in Early Intervention. He doesn’t walk or anything yet, and he’s almost 2, but he seems to get on just fine, in his own way. Some kids just need more time and some just need a little help.

  13. eida says:

    I was a little worried that my son was not on track. I felt he was a little slow in putting words together. My husband thought he was ok but i still went ahead to discuss with his pediatrician. She convinced me he was using the number of words just right for his age. I figured he needed to be around kids his age to be able to communicate better. He is 29 months now and is doing a lot better.
    i’m glad i trusted my instincts.

  14. my son is 21 months and only says move,no,and cat,but on the other hand my older son spoke in full sentences at 10 mnths.Im going to try speach classes for him because i feel he is behind and i also seee him get angry in a way when he trys to speak wht is on his mind and does not know how. Although he understands every word spoken to him, so i dont know really wht to do.

  15. Fawn says:

    My son is 19 months and still won’t say much. He says "hey, yeah, what, pease (please), dad" and he can tell me what different animals say. He doesn’t really have anyone talking to him other than mommy and daddy so I figure he’s not behind? But he is definitely trying to say more.

    • Beatriz says:

      My son is gonna be 17 months old and he still cant speak words like mama or papa. Im not sure if its normal or if he has problems. We are hispanic and have heard that if babies can walk early on they tend to talk later on; while those that learn to speak first tend to walk later.

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