Parents often ask “why is my toddler not talking yet?” as there is a lot of emphasis on when our children utter their first word. And it’s for this reason that parents can feel disheartened if they feel that their child is not reaching language milestones as quickly as siblings or friends.
Dr Lauren Stretch is CEO of Early Inspiration, an early education centre in Port Elizabeth. Today she answers the question of when babies and toddlers learn to talk
It is important to remember that early talkers may have a few words before 12 months, and late talkers might not say much by their second birthday.
Toddlers at 18 months, generally, have around 20 words in their vocabulary – but more often than not, it is close family who recognise all these words, as they will have their own little way of saying things.
Listening skills are important, so remember vocabulary is not everything – there is so much more to language development than speaking. Before speaking, children learn
Listening skills are important, so remember vocabulary is not everything – there is so much more to language development than speaking. Before speaking, children learn lots of other skills such as listening, interpreting, decoding, understanding and conceptualising.
For every word your child can say, they probably understand 50 more words. This is easy to test, as your toddler should be able to follow simple requests. Although this is not speaking, the understanding of the words is an important stage in language and communication development.
If you want to help your child’s language development, you can do lots of things to help. Even before your child can talk fluently, you can have lots of conversations where you give them a chance to respond – even if it’s a smile or a gurgle.
- Don’t ask endless questions (which can be difficult to respond to, even for chatter-boxes). Instead, describe what your baby or toddler is doing, for example: “I’m just unlocking the door so we can get inside”.
- Sing nursery rhymes together.
- Share picture books.
There is time to seek help with a toddler’s language development so if you are concerned that your toddler is really behind and not communicating or interacting like other toddlers, it is always best to follow your instinct.
- Speak to your GP. Ask for a hearing test to rule out hearing problems. This will not harm your child, whereas leaving things if they do need some help or have a hearing problem may really slow language development.
- A speech/language therapist will arrange to check a toddler’s hearing and also assess listening skills, social skills, language comprehension, vocabulary and sounding words out.
Source: Herald Live