Is My Baby Talking Enough?

is my baby talking enough?After my first son was born, I voraciously followed his milestones and progress with several books, including What to Expect: The First Year, Dr. Sears’ book, and the AAP book. (Full disclosure: with my second child … I maybe didn’t pay quite so much attention to these things). I also compared notes with the other moms in my online due date club.

As a first-time parent, I had tons of anxiety about milestones: Was my baby progressing adequately, was I doing enough as his parent to ensure he did? Guess what…these thoughts are totally normal. For me (and the parents of many toddlers, particularly boys), his speech development was my largest concern. My baby was shy, yes, but he also didn’t seem to have nearly the language development going on as his peers. The pediatrician that saw him at his first birthday well baby checkup commented that, “If he were a girl, she would be concerned.”

So when is it time to take action with a possible speech delay? Honestly, if you think there may be a delay, I would consult your pediatrician. Babies often make language gains rather sporadically, and chances are your child is developing normally. If she is not, however, early intervention is really important.

If you think your child may have a delay, or perhaps a family member or childcare provider has suggested something similar, the first step is talking to your pediatrician. Your provider will have you fill out a developmental questionnaire (you probably have done several of these already). If she feels it’s necessary, she will refer your child to a specialist. In the state I lived in, there was an early intervention office run by the state for children under three years old, and after the third birthday, the school district was responsible for screening. It’s important to trust your gut on this one—if your doctor thinks your child is developing normally and you really feel otherwise, speak up.

The testing is pretty fun for many kids (my son thought it was fantastic); it’s geared to be mostly playing with a speech and occupational therapist, and you stay in the room the whole time. If they find delays to a significant enough degree, they will refer you to ST or OT (in the state I lived in, the wait list to get into speech therapy was very long). Preschoolers may be able to do therapy sessions through a local elementary school or even qualify for a special education preschool, depending on where you live.

Just remember though, the milestones are just averages. Try not to get overly concerned about any one part, but if you feel your child may be falling behind, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two young boys and a foster mom to a variety of rescue dogs and cats.

Tags: boys, delay, development, milestones, speech, talking, toddler

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