Your little one has been walking around as curious like a cat for a few months now. This is quite normal for a toddler who is about to turn two years old. But, why is he not talking yet?
As a parent, it is quite bothersome if your little babe has not been able to say his first words when he is only a month away shy from turning two.
What can be the problem?
Most parents find it hard not to compare their child’s milestones from others. Social media makes it easy to do that. The digital age also allows you to look up information regarding your child’s progress. You might have read somewhere that when your child is between 18 to 24 months, he should be able to say around 50 different words. By age two, he should be able to form sentences. Below are some of the usual guidelines that can tell you that a child is not at par with his vocabulary.
- At 18 months, your toddler should be familiar with at least 20 different words. He should be familiar with some nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, and social words.
- By age two or 24 months, he should know and understand 100 words and pair up at least two words properly. These pairings should not be common combinations of words that your child can memorize from hearing it repeatedly like “what’s that?” or “thank you”. Combinations like “want milk” or “doggie bye bye” are the proper examples.
These are the normal timelines, but not everyone can stick to the timeline. Your toddler does not read any books on childhood development. He only does what he has to do only when he is prepared to do so.
Here are some reasons why you should not rely on what is considered the norm when raising your toddler:
- In the beginning, some children can be excellent in one area and completely miss out on another. It does not mean they will never get to it. It is just that your toddler might have just learned how to walk and climb. So instead of learning how to talk, his curiosity might be directed on perfecting his newfound walking and climbing skills.
- As it seems, boys develop talking skills later than girls. This is not applicable for all boys, but it is what is widely observed.
It is Okay, According to a New Study
Hopefully, this will put your mind at ease. A new study from the Journal of Pediatrics has been a help in reassuring worried parents if their two-year olds still do not have talking skills. The inability to form words is proved to have no effect on a child’s general development.
This means even if your toddler is lagging in the speech department on their 23rd month, it is not a sign that he will be behind his peers for good.
The study proved the following points:
- Toddlers who began to talk later than what is deemed normal will not experience any behavioral problems. Talking late can be just a phase that will not affect a child’s way of life in the future.
- It can be frustrating for a toddler with an already developed mind to be unable to express themselves. But once they start speaking, these frustrations will come to a halt.
- The participants were studied until they reach 17 years old. Around 80% of them have been conversational by the time they went to school.
Of course, if you suspect other existing problems contributing to the delay, then a trip to the pediatrician can clarify things for you.
Is Being a Late Talker Just a Phase or is it A Real Problem?
A lot of late talkers grow out of the situation, but some do not. Usually, since some of these kids are invested in learning other skills, parents assume that the situation will resolve on its own. It is hard to tell whether the inability to speak during the developmental stage is just a phase or a sign of an underlying problem.
The following risk factors suggest that delayed speech is more than what it is. These are:
- Very quiet as a child. Little babbling and sounds
- Contracting ear infections regularly
- Not being able to produce all consonant sounds
- Unable to copy or repeat words
- Does not appreciate pretend ideas or doing actions when playing
- Having a hard time playing with others
- Uses minimal gestures for communication
- Difficulty comprehending what he is being told
- A history of learning disabilities in the family
If your toddler is exhibiting a few of the above symptoms, then it is time to seek help. Try consulting a speech and language pathologist. Also, have an expert evaluate your children’s hearing abilities. Ensure that he can hear all sounds at different pitches and volumes. Even mild hearing problems are linked to language development issues.
Speech Delay VS. Speech Disorder
The range in the number of children with speech or language problems in the United States lies somewhere around six million.
If your toddler still cannot utter any discernible words, then he or she is not an exceptional case. However, the reasons for delayed speech or speech disorders vary. With a toddler, it can be a challenge to come up with the correct diagnosis in the first few visits.
First off, let us differentiate delay and disorder. A speech delay meant that the child’s rate of development is just slow. The child will be able to talk, but at much slower rate than other children. A delay can be remedied in time. Once the kid catches up, there will be no repercussions caused by the delay.
A disorder, however, means the nature of the issue is atypical. Aside from the slow phase, the abnormalities causing the problem are not seen in those with normal developing skills. It is a lot more serious compared to a delay.
Common Speech Disorders For Toddlers
Here a few possible disorders why your child may have been experiencing speech difficulty.
This speech disorder impacts how a child plan and arranges his mouth movements in order to make out comprehendible sentences.
Diagnosing a kid below three years old with apraxia is not common for clinicians because some of them believe that this kind of disorder does not manifest before three years of age. If you truly believe that your kid has it, then you should look for a clinician who is open to that possibility.
Some of the kids with apraxia also find it hard to process information through his other senses like hearing, seeing, and touching. One indicative characteristic of this disorder is feeding issues. For instance, your toddler may not be aware that he is overstuffing his mouth due to the lack of sensation on that part. There is also a tendency for the child to gag due to the oversensitivity in that area. The food texture might be too much for the little one.
- Phonological Disorders
This disorder is characterized by a failure to recognize the rules and patterns of sound combinations needed to form coherent words and sentences. Some examples are ignoring the first or last consonant in a word such as the “c “in cat or the “g” in dog, reducing the number of syllables in a word such as only saying “bay” when he means baby, and duplicating the simple syllables in a word such as saying “dada” for daddy.
This disorder is very common in developing kids. It is only a problem when your toddler does not progress from it. Usually, these problems diminish by age three. If your toddler still finds it hard to adapt and mature in their patterns, then a phonological disorder can be a diagnosis.
A child with this disorder seems to be on a stage of development, yet his patterns do not get upgraded. Basically, he will sound younger than what his age is. Therapy can help the child cope because it can supply him with strategies and new patterns to apply.
- Articulation Disorders
A difficulty producing or pronouncing speech sounds denote an articulation disorder. Some kids usually confuse w sounds and r sounds in the beginning, but this is more long-term for a child with this disorder. Additionally, blended sounds like “st” is challenging for someone with articulation disorders.
- Language Processing Disorder
This disorder can be seen in children under three years old. It is characterized by struggling to listen, analyze, classify, store, and recover information and can make it seem like your toddler can’t understand a word of what you are saying. This is very common in kids with autism or other similar learning disabilities.
Some parents are so engulfed in the situation that they start looking signs are not there. Instead of seeking a professional opinion, you might relate your child’s lack of speaking to some possible reasons that are alarming and unsettling. It is very natural of parents to get a little bit paranoid about how their kids are, but it is always best to consult an expert.
Of course, it is very important to encourage your toddler to speak during this time. However, it is not about chattering mindlessly hoping he will catch some of the words you throw out there. Even you, as an adult, will lose interest when listening to someone who talks too much. By minding the quality and quantity of the words you use when you speak, you can encourage your toddler to talk. Treating your baby as an equal can keep him engaged and ready for interaction.
Tips on How to Motivate Your Toddler To Speak
- Open the Door of Communication
Let your child know what is happening. Simple things like saying “Okay. I will put you inside your crib now.” is a good strategy. Apart from that, observe their non-verbal signals and the sounds they make. Ask and wait for a response. Make an effort to let them know that you are listening to them.
- Use Natural Voice and Use the First Person
Talking this way will set an example for your toddler. Also, this is more realistic. The sooner they are exposed to the real manner of speaking, the quicker they can adapt. Just speak a little slower than you would so they can distinguish words better.
- Tell Them Real Stories than Just Reiterating the Words
To expand a child’s vocabulary, the first instinct is to hold the object in your hand or mimic the action. However, this can be boring. Instead, use the words in stories that involve them. Try narrating what your child is doing or comment on their activities.
- Read Books to Them
Read books that reflect your child’s interest. Linger on one page for about five minutes. Do not just read what is in the book, but describe what you can see in one page.
- Refrain from Quizzing Your Child
Toddlers who are not confident to communicate will feel untrusted and disrespected. Pressuring your child to perform in front of relatives will also inhibit their eagerness to speak. Also, do not ask about things you know the answer to, such as “Where are your ears?”
- Avoid Corrections and Discouragements
When a child speaks out, they are bound to get a few words wrong. As an adult, your impulse is to correct the mistake. Instead of jumping to correcting, be patient. The kid will realize the differences between animals and colors in no time so long as you do not stop teaching them.
When your child asks for something, do not say no. For example, he said “anana” referring to a banana. If he just ate, find a way to say that you will give one to him later because he just ate. Instead of point-blank saying no.
By listening and respecting your toddler, he will feel encouraged and open to communication. The impression that you welcome his thoughts and ideas will not only speed up his talking skills. It will also deepen your bond with your little one.