Q: [Babies and Toddlers] “My little one isn’t talking yet. Should we see a specialist?”
A: As with all milestones, the age at which children learn language and begin talking can vary. However, if you suspect your child has difficulties with expressing themselves, the key is early awareness.
My general rule of thumb is: By every birthday, your child should be combining that many words. For example, by your child’s second birthday, he/she should be combining two words together (“Mommy up,” “Daddy push”). Below is a list of important speech and language milestones:
By 12 months: Babies should be using their voice to relate to their environment — this begins by cooing and babbling in the early stages. By 12 months, your child may have said their first word.
By 18 to 24 months: By 18 months, most children have up to 50 words and by 2 years, about 200 to 450 words. They are using more words than gestures to communicate and are able to answer yes/no questions with gestures to simple questions.
By 3 years of age: At this age, parents have noticed a significant increase in speech and language development. Children have acquired most sounds and are understood by others. They are combining at least three words together, using basic pronouns, plurals and are engaging longer in dialogue.
A child with a speech delay may be using words/phrases to express themselves, but is difficult to understand. A child with a language delay might pronounce words well, but has difficulty combining words together.
As a child’s first best friend, parents play a pivotal role in their child’s speech/language development. This can be enhanced through play, restructuring the environment to elicit language opportunities, shared book reading and many more fun-filled activities!
If at any point you feel as though your child is not progressing towards self-expression, follow your heart and make an appointment with a speech language pathologist. The benefits of receiving support early holds tremendous gains for your little one.
Sholeh Shahinfar, MA, CCC-SLP, RYT, is the owner of Valued Voices, located in Newport Beach. She has been a practicing speech language pathologist for over 10 years. Shahinfar and her team hold various certifications/trainings and specialize in early awareness. valuedvoicestherapy.com