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Toddler Talk: What's The Norm?

Toddler Talk: What's The Norm?

Toddler Talk: What's The Norm?

Hearing your child speak his first clear words is one of motherhood’s most precious milestones. But what happens when he's approaching age two or three and the words have not yet come? Is this normal? Should you be concerned?

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that “Most toddlers master at least fifty spoken words by the end of the second year and can put two words together to form a short sentence." But the Academy also states that if your child doesn't fit this pattern, it isn't necessarily a reason to assume something's wrong: “There are differences among children. Even among those with normal hearing and intelligence, some don’t talk much during the second year."

Postings in various Circle of Moms communities made by moms of toddlers demonstrate that there are indeed vast differences in language development among children in this age range:


At one end of the spectrum are Jenee R.'s 22 month-old, who "uses (the word) 'hot' for everything;" Jeannie W.'s 2 year-old, who understands everything she says to him but "refuses to talk. I think he has about 10-12 words;" and Rhiannon T.'s daughter, who "can only say 'mom, dada, and my personal favorite: 'NONONO'."

At the other end of the spectrum, Melanie B. says that "My two-year-old is bilingual (her dad is Italian) and chatters easily in both languages. She had a vocabulary of about 50 words in each language by 18 months old." And Beth J. says, "My daughter never shuts up!!! She describes everything, she talks to herself when she is playing in her room. There are many times I have to go and look in her room to make sure she is still by herself!"

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 with talking until he was about 26 months. 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."

Moms whose children experience language delays encourage others facing the same dilemma to not worry, but to also seek professional advice.

"I would bring it up with your pediatrician if you are worried," advises Amy G. Her son Kyan did not speak at 24 months of age. She took him to a speech therapist who diagnosed him with childhood apraxia of speech. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Assocation, it is a disorder in which "the brain has problems planning to move the body parts — for example, the lips, jaw, and tongue — needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words."

She knew something was wrong, but others told her that his older brother was doing the talking for him, which is not unheard of when an older sibling who can talk is in the picture.

But Amy G. went with her instincts: "It wasn't until I listened to that voice inside my head that we actually got him the help he needs," she admits.

Her proactive approach is what the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests when a parent suspect language delay in their toddler. According to the Academy, one in every ten children has trouble with language comprehension and/or speech.

"Early detection and identification of language delay or hearing impairment is critically important, so treatment can begin before the problem interferes with learning in other areas," the Academy states.

As Nina C. shares, following through with a speech therapist can net quick results for a child trying to gain language: "My 21-month old boy was only saying two words. We got him tested with a speech therapist and he is (indeed) a late talker. We were given some simple exercises to encourage his speech and it has worked," she says. "Within one week, he was using eight words and now he is using around 12 words. Learning more every day."

Image Source: linh.ngan via Flickr/Creative Commons

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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FarrukhSohail1365411677 FarrukhSohail1365411677 2 years

My two years old baby named muhammad sameer is suffering in teeth pain as his new chew teeth is coming her left chin is swallow and also has a fever. much pain in his gums what i do with her i paste a bonjela cream on his gum but not in vain.

CoMMember13631189244843 CoMMember13631189244843 3 years
It never hurts to check these things out. My grandson is being evaluated for not speaking, he's 2, and his tantrums. The psychologist has spent 6 hours with him, and how he's in occupational therapy, to help with tantrums and other things, and in speech therapy. No definitive diagnosis, as they say at least 6 months of work is needed, and we are greatly appreciative for all this help for our boy. Do not wait! Better to be too cautious than just sit back and wait, and perhaps be behind in school.
AggieMazur1378472470 AggieMazur1378472470 3 years
My son is 25 months old, he speaks in 2 languages( mostly in English) he puts 3-4 words together, he says what he wants, and what he doesn't like" I don't like it". He even knows how to joke, yesterday I said: " mommy is going to eat you" and he replied: " oh no, Alex doesn't like, Alex is a square!" :) he knows 15 shapes, and the alphabet, numbers. Yesterday when we were walking outside he pointed out STOP sign and said:" Is it octagon?", I opened my mouth.
BarbaraAllen22005 BarbaraAllen22005 4 years
My 25 month old has about 70 words I understand clearly, but probably only about 60 words that most people can understand. He puts together tons of two to three word sentences and quite a few much longer ones. On his second birthday he started refusing to let me help him eat and telling me "NO! I do it. I'm two!"
MollySkyar MollySkyar 4 years
I agree, it really is a case by case basis and of course it's important to listen to your instincts. We had a reader ask Dr. Susan Rutherford, a Clinical Psychologist if they should worry because their 2.5 yr old is very active but not many words yet. You can read more about it here:
KandissSmith KandissSmith 5 years
My 21 mth old daughter says maybe on a good day 30 words but she points to just about everything.....Or if she trying tell me something she acts it out and ppl laugh when I tell th em what she said I thinkshe does good but then I get a little worried
ErinGibbons99527 ErinGibbons99527 5 years
My son is 30 months and he doesn't have any official words. He has some other genetic issues that have a lot to do with it. He can say "bus" but he can only repeat after someone has said it for him. He has to be very motivated to talk at all. He does use some sign language though, which is very helpful. We have been trying to get him speech therapy for almost a year. Hopefully, we'll be starting soon and figuring out what's going on with his little brain. He's definitely a smart boy, which is why we can tell there's a problem. He tries to talk, but he can't really seem to move his jaw and mouth muscles at the same time. I'm thinking he might have verbal apraxia.
madznahhamiddon madznahhamiddon 5 years
My 2y7months boy is started to talk baby language at age 6 months. and now the words that he always say are "tata", "dede (means daddy)" and other baby language..
CaseyShinkle CaseyShinkle 6 years
My youngest son just turned 2 this month. Months ago he began speaking words then he stopped saying much of anything. It almost seemed like his vocabulary vanished. My oldest boys would give him anything he wanted without having to say words and I think that was part of the issue. He began to just use sounds in different pitches, which was beginning to be a little annoying. Finally I got the older two boys to start working with me to make him say words. We didn't let him get frustrated but we always kept repeating the words over and over. Now he is saying more words along with the ones he already knew and I don't have to listen to him scream or whine for things as much. Of course he still does get frustrated when he wants to tell us something but cant say the word he wants to use, but at least we have progress.
LauraMiller69047 LauraMiller69047 6 years
My daughter did not say a single word until she was around 2 1/2 years old. Now she will be 3 years old in a month and she talks non-stop. We worried that she was autistic and even got the Early Intervention people to help her and all along she was just waiting for her own right time to start talking. Every child is so different. Yes, sometimes there is an underlying issue for a child not talking like a hearing problem, but just because your child isn't talking doesn't necessarily mean there is something wrong with them.
AlmiraRellita AlmiraRellita 6 years
my son is 22months but doesnt speak a single word?what should i do?
KellyHobson85891 KellyHobson85891 6 years
My daughter is almost 20 months and will say something but never say it again... anyone else have this issue? Is it normal?
Alisa14888196 Alisa14888196 6 years
I completely agree that every child is different. The reason that we and our pediatrician agreed to enroll our then 18 month old in speech therapy was because of her development. She is very bright and a little advanced for her age, but her speech was at an 8 month old level. Because of this, she was very frustrated and started to have behavioral issues. Remember, in the state of CA First5 pays for a developmental evaluation of your child should you have ANY worry about ANY aspect of your child from birth to 36 months. As a parent, I am grateful for this. And this is not an income based program, ao inquire with your pediatrician because it is a self referral program.
LisaBartrug LisaBartrug 6 years
This was encouraging to me. I have a late talker as well. I had been looking at all avenues to solve the problem. She is now 28 months old and working with "SoonerStart" which is funded by the state of Oklahoma. A nice lady comes to our house twice a month to teach my little girl and is already impressed by the progress made. :) Hopefully I'll have a little chatter box soon!
BeckyFairchildFisher BeckyFairchildFisher 6 years
It really does depend on the child. I teach 12 to almost 24 mo olds. We have one who will be 2 in July who says many words. He knows all his colors and animals and shapes and will say some short word phrases. We have another 2 who will be 2 in August. One speaks awesome!! Short phrases often, knows most her colors, will say please and thank you and no, help, knows herteachersnames, no issues and the other barely says anything. I think he understands us, but is lazy and doesn't do things and isn't made to talk. He was a very late walker too. I think he would benefit from one on one to help his development. My son was an early talker, very clear too and never stops talking and never has!! No worries with that one. He's 5, starting Kindergarten in September and already reads books. My daughter, who will be 3 in the beginning of July, talks, definitely says many words but is not as clear spoken. She still jibbers sometimes but I have no worries. She understands what we say, can have a conversation with people, and is now interested in learning letters and spelling her name and writing the letters. So, you can see there are many different abilites in the age group. Where our doctor mentioned meeting with a speech therapist for our daughter at her 30 month check up because she was just making silly noises (she does that when she's excited or trying to show off) we said no. There are no problems with language, maybe speech but I'm still not worried. Talk to your doctor see what they think. If you feel that there is a delay, early is definitely better. You want them to be as far as they can be before they start school.
AnnetteHopkinson AnnetteHopkinson 6 years
My recommendation is if you are worried, go to a speech therapist. It certainly can't hurt, and you will get some good ideas for little exercises/games you can do with your child to help them. Mot of the activities are good fun anyway! I have worked at a Language Development Centre as a teacher for 10 years, and I can tell you early intervention makes all the difference - if you help them early, often by the time they get to school you wouldn't know there was a problem. My 2yo son is a really good talker - hundreds of words, sentences, counting to over 20 etc, but then he's had "intervention" even though I don't mean to since day 1.
sherrywright72618 sherrywright72618 6 years
My daughter will be three in exactly two months talks nonstop and has been since about 18 months. It truly depends on the child and how you as tge parent engages the child
ChristinaKinderHerbert ChristinaKinderHerbert 6 years
It really does depend on the child ... I have a friend who has a 3 year old that doesnt say half the words my 2 yr old does ...she even uses please , thank you , your welcome and excuse me appropriately , knows most shapes , counts to 3 and all sorts of things ..I think it also has alot to do with teaching them constantly ...I read all those articles that said to talk aimlessly to your baby all day describing what your doing and such and I read her at least 5 short board books a day.
AmyBurt40227 AmyBurt40227 6 years
All three of my children have language and articulation problems; speech and language are two different things; speech is basically the pronunciation of words and language is the understanding and the ability to express yourself; if your child isn't speaking by at least two or at least not at the same level as others his/her age it is quite important to get an evaluation with a speech pathologist because this can affect everything around the child; evaluations will test what level your child understands and expresses. My oldest is still in therapy after 5 yrs; my second child has been in therapy 4 yrs and my youngest has been in it for 2 yrs. Of course my first two also have other developmental issues as well.
LisaDaffordRambeau LisaDaffordRambeau 6 years
I have a 23 month old son who only said mamama I was completely worried so I took him to his pediatrician who was also concerned from there we were sent to children's mercy hospital were he was observed! They told me he has the speach skills of a 18 mth old..he has sensory problems an behavioral problems! His hearing an everything else is fine. Since this appointment I was extremely stressed out,depressed etc. It turns out my son is now saying several different words his behavior is improving wonderfully...I believe it really just depends on the child!
CoMMember13613651361558 CoMMember13613651361558 6 years
Oh my son is a regular prattle box he says everything and repeats everything i have resulted in spelling words i dont want him to say...... he's two and started talking three months...
DesireeJaquett DesireeJaquett 6 years
My daughter was 23 months and onlt said mama and mandmom so at her school was a speech therapist for an older child and I asked her if I should get her tested for speech and she said It couldnt hurt. She did need speech .now shes 5 and doesnt stop talking . My son is 17 months and says about 15 to 20 words already! So indeed every child is different
ShanikaGates ShanikaGates 6 years
My daughter is 21 months, she only says two words (mom and thank you) should i be worried and how soon should we visit a speech therapist.
MonicaWille MonicaWille 6 years
My son will be 3 this month and does not say nearly 50 words. Mostly its still baby jibberish he is enrolled in parents as teachers and failed his speech test he got a 30%....we have an appointment with a speech therapist next week...hopefully we will be able to get him going because he gets so frustrated when we cant understand him.
MelissaDunn21802 MelissaDunn21802 6 years
My son was a very early talker, putting two or more words together by his first birthday. My daughter is 18 months and doesn't talk much at all. She has maybe 10 words at the most. But I keep telling myself to give her a little more time and not compare her to her brother.
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