Speech Delay?

smiling toddlerToddlerhood. Toddlers are often described as “walking and talking machines.” It is during toddlerhood that there seems to be an explosion of both gross motor and speech and language development. Although it is true that all children develop differently, when it comes to your toddler’s developing speech, it’s important to recognize what is a developmental norm and what may be signs of a delay.

The American Academy of Pediatrics confirms that one in five children will experience a delay in language or speech. Speech is defined as “the verbal articulation of language.”

Diagnosing a delay and obtaining early intervention, sometimes from a speech-language pathologist, is important in supporting your child’s optimal speech development.

What may be signs of a delay?

*Your young toddler isn’t babbling much or often, trying to imitate sounds, and/or using the most basic of words – “me,” “jump,” “down.”

*Your child prefers using gestures (i.e. pointing) vs. trying to use words to ask for or describe something.

*Your toddler has not obtained the ability and/or doesn’t seem to have an interest in defining their world around them with words (i.e. “kitty,” “cup,” “ball”).

*By the end of their second year, your toddler is not using simple two-word sentences to try to communicate with others.

*Your toddler may find it challenging to follow simple directions and/or may show frustration at not being understood by others.

*Although any toddler’s speech may be a challenge to decipher at times, primary caregivers most often understand the toddler. If it isn’t possible to recognize any toddler’s ramblings, it may be a sign of a speech delay.

*Although it may be uncomfortable to acknowledge, compared to their peers, your toddler’s speech development seems underdeveloped.

In addition to the above, it’s always important to go with your instincts. If you are concerned your toddler is not meeting developmental goals for speech development, talk to your pediatrician. Again, early intervention is the best intervention.

What do you think?

Speech Delay?

Tell us what you think!


  1. Profile photo of Kate Kate says:

    My son is 18 month and the only word he uses is Uh Oh, we have an appointment for a speech evaluation but any tips on what we can do in the mean time would be helpful. He suffered severe ear infections since he was born. We are having tubes put in his ears this month. Any idea if this would contribute to the delay? I daughter was speeking in full sentences by the age of 2, and my son doesnt even say mama or dada (with reference to someone).

  2. Profile photo of Jennifer Jennifer says:

    Talk to your pediatrian — they have expectations for each age — earliest is mama, dada, baba — babble — but words or partical words are around 12-15 mo.. They wanted him using words for at least 5 things other than mama/dada by 18 mo — it can be nicknames for blanket or sippy…

  3. Profile photo of Jennifer Jennifer says:

    My pediatrian got concerned at 18 mo when my son didn’t have 5 words he used regularly.. We waited and encourage more word use but still nothing he starts speech this week..At 22 mo he should be stringing 2 words and is not even trying.. mostly jibberish. He has his own made up gestures to convey his needs but is very frustrated.. He can do 2 & 3 step tasks and seems to understand what we are saying just doesn’t choose words to respond.. Some children with speech delays have difficulty learning to read/sounding out in Kindergarden so we acting early to get him caught up before school..

  4. Profile photo of Janice Janice says:

    My boys when they were young had speech in every grade of school, until they were in there late teens. I am better at understanding children with speech problems, since I had a lot of experience through out the years. They can get better, mine did learn how to say many words, but it took a lot of work.

  5. at what age do these "guidelines" become applicable. I’m worried about my 20month old after reading this!

  6. Profile photo of heidi heidi says:

    my 3 years old who was preemie goes to speech and language ”school” and he enjoys it..took awhile to find a ”teacher” that clicked with him…we found one and they get along great…still we have some good days and some not so good days


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