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What to Do When Your Toddler Doesn’t Talk

What to Do When Your Toddler Doesn’t Talk

At 15 months, Jessica A.'s little girl isn't yet talking. This worried Circle of Moms member is trying everything she can think of to jump start her daughter's words, including flash cards, the 'Your Baby Can Read' series, and consistently saying the names of all the foods she eats, "but we haven't gotten much out of it yet."

Whether a toddler is talking or not talking, or how little, are subjects of great concern for many Circle of Moms members. And like Jessica A., many are wondering what they should do about these concerns.

The good news is that every child starts talking on her own timeline, and there's a broad range for that timeline. One mom with a slow-to-talk toddler, Brandi H., says reassuringly that a bit of time is the trick: "My older boy had a hard time talking until he was about 26 months," she says. He only said 'mama,' 'dada,' 'baba,' 'baby,' and 'Lulu.' Now he's three and his doctor is impressed at how well he talks for his age. I also have a 16-month old boy who already has a 12-word vocabulary and has already said his first sentence. So it really depends on the child."

Karen H. says she was concerned, but waited until her son was ready to talk. "My son was the exact same way, but I chose to opt out of getting him checked out at two because I knew he was doing fine," she says. "It's almost like a light switch came on around his second birthday. The child is a parrot now. He's gone from only having a 5-10 word vocabulary to repeating everything we say and being able to now string four words together."

Brandi's and Karen's stories are among many that offer a reassuring bit of wisdom: above all, moms say, don’t lose hope — there are things you can do to help. Here are three that are key.

1. Consult Your Pediatrician

Emily D. and Louise G. both suggest trusting your gut and consulting your child’s pediatrician or a speech therapist. “Maybe he/she can help you eliminate any concerns you have,” says Emily. “That would be my first step, get an appointment for him to see the pediatrician and go from there.”


"Going from there" may lead you to an evaluation for Early Intervention Services, in which trained specialists will create a program for you and your child that will help address speech and behavioral problems. (For more information on EIS, read An Early Intervention Services Primer.)

"If you have any doubt about your child's progress you should definately get them tested. I know it was the best thing I did for my children who were both diagnosed with speech dyspraxia," shares Michelle J.

2. Talk to Your Child All the Time

Moms like Julie suggest that parents speak to their toddlers frequently in order to encourage their launguage development. "I'm having the same problem," she says. "My 17-month-old son only says mama, goggie (doggie), and sounds for other words, like dada for drink. I'm having his ears checked at his 18 month appointment. Until then, just lots of encouragement and different words that he can hear."

Michelle M. says talking is the strategy she would recommend as well. "There are a few things I believe helped my very chatty three-year-old," she says. "Since he was a baby, I've always talked to him in full sentences. When I ask him questions, I give him time to respond. I find that many people don't give them time to process what they want to say."

3. Read to Your Child

Reading is another important habit that will go a long way in improving your child’s language skills, say moms. When they are exposed to reading it helps them pick up on the way words ebb and flow, says Brandi H. "My older boy had a hard time with talking until he was about 26 months," she says. "He only said mama, dada, baba, baby and Lulu. Now he's three and his doctor is impressed at how well he talks for his age. Sit and read lots of books pointing thngs out to her when you are out somewhere and tell her what they are each time you give her some thing tell her what it is."

Can you suggest other ways of encouraging a toddler to talk?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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