You know your child. You understand what he means when he points to the door. You listen to her talk and watch her play. You remember what your older children did and said at the same age. It is normal to compare your child to other children. It is also normal to worry if you think your child is not keeping up.
You may ask other parents, relatives, or your doctor how they think your child talks. You may get answers like, “My son was slow, too. Now he won't shut up,” or “Don't worry; she'll outgrow it.” Your doctor might tell you not to worry until your child is closer to school age. And they might be right.
But what if they aren’t? You may think things like I'd feel guilty waiting only to find out that I should have done something sooner. How will I know for sure what to do?
You won’t know for sure. All children go through the same stages as their speech and language develops. However, it is hard to know exactly when your child will get to each stage. There is a range of what is normal, and it can vary a lot. Your child’s speech and language development depends on:
This makes it hard to say for sure where your child’s speech and language development will be in 3 months or 1 year.
Is your child between 18 and 30 months old and not talking as well as you think he should? Some factors that may put your child at risk for language problems include:
Having a problem with anything on this list does not mean that your child has a language delay. However, it puts him more at risk. You may want to have your child tested to make sure his speech and language is where it should be.
You know your child best. You don’t have to wait and see if you think there might be a problem. And you don’t have to guess if your child will catch up. You can have your child seen by a speech-language pathologist, or SLP. The SLP will talk to you about your concerns and test how well your child understands, speaks, and uses gestures.
The SLP may give you ideas about how to help your child talk. The SLP may suggest that you come back again if you are still worried in a few months. If your child shows signs of a problem, the SLP may suggest that you talk to an early intervention program. This program can work with you to find ways to help your child communicate better. They can also help if you have any other concerns about your child’s development.
Trust your instincts. Find out if your child is a late bloomer or has a language delay. Help is available.
See ASHA information for professionals on the Practice Portal’s Late Language Emergence page.
To find a speech-language pathologist near you, visit ProFind.