Recognizing a Speech Delay in Your Toddler

It’s so exciting when your little baby begins to use words. Hearing “dada” and “momma” for the first time surely melts every new mom’s heart. But, what about when you suspect that your little one is behind in their speech and language development?

Recognizing a Speech Delay in Your Toddler

When my daughter turned one, she mostly babbled and baby talked. As time went on, however, I started to notice she didn’t add many new words to her vocabulary. I had a few friends whose little ones were saying more than Johanna, and I began to panic.

Child doesn’t try to get others attention.At her 18 month well-check, my wonderful pediatrician put my mind at ease. We went over the words Johanna did use, and she explained to me that she wouldn’t get too concerned about her speech development until age 2. So, what’s normal for a 12-18  month old? How do you recognize when there really is a speech delay?

  • Child seems uninterested in their environment and shows little eye contact.
  • Child cannot point to 2-3 major body parts.
  • Child cannot point to pictures of objects or people when asked.
  • Child does not say single words.
  • Child shows limited emotional activity.

What’s common for 12-18 months in speech and language? Most children at this age can…

  • Recognize their own name
  • Understand “no” and other simple commands and instructions
  • Wave “bye bye”
  • Copy familiar words when asked
  • Imitate animal sounds
  • Attempt to communicate by mixing baby jargon and real words

While I am no expert on speech and language development, I do know that I want the best for my daughter. She has made great improvements in her speech since her 18 month check-up, and I am still hoping for more before she turns 2. Right now, her favorite words are purple and broccoli.

There are great programs to help young toddlers with signs of a speech delay. Talk to your pediatrician for a local contact. Many services are free of charge. You can also do your own oral exercises at home with your little one to work on any improvements.

Remember that no child is the same. Every one learns at a different pace. Before you know it, your little one will be talking up a storm!

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of one and one on the way. She loves to hear her daughter say new words and will really miss the baby talk one day. 

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