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Potential Signs of a Speech and/or Language Delay in Toddlers

Speech and Language development can vary from child to child, and it’s often difficult for parents to know whether or not their child is on track with their developmental milestones. Although these are guidelines, the following information regarding potential signs of speech and or/ language delay can help parents know whether or not they should consult with a Speech- Language Pathologist. If you recognize any of these signs in your children, reach out to us and we can answer any questions or concerns you may have!!

  1. Not producing early consonants: Your child should be making many new sounds including vowels and consonants. The earliest consonants that you should notice are /p,b,m/. You should also start to hear /h,w/ sounds. If you are only hearing vowel sounds, this may be a sign to contact an SLP.

  2. Grunting or babbling only: Although vocalizations and babbling are amazing and necessary skills for speech and language development, we want to ensure that our toddlers are beginning to make words. Babies generally begin to babble between 4-6 months of age, so if we aren’t progressing past this as a toddler, contact an SLP.

  3. Not saying words by age 1: By one year of age, you should notice your child vocalizing often. They will be babbling and saying mama and/or dada. Besides babbling and identifying their primary caregivers, we like to see that the child has a couple other words as well. Usually these will be salient or important words that they encounter frequently within their environment (i.e. ball, hi, uh-oh).

  4. Not saying as many words as peers: Although each child is so different and unique, it is oftentimes helpful for parents to gauge their child’s speech and language development when around other peers of the same age. If you notice that your child may not have a similar amount of words as their peers, it may be a good idea to consult an SLP.

  5. Not showing interest in others or attempting to engage with others: Although we all have our own unique personalities and some kids are more shy than others, your toddler should be aware of and show interest in others. While they may still have “stranger danger” and not want to interact with new people until they are comfortable, they should notice others and eventually interact with others socially. This could also look like a lack of eye contact or not doing simple greetings like waving hi or bye. Engaging with others is important in language development to learn social rules and expand language, so reach out to an SLP if you notice that your child is not interested in this.

  6. Not understanding simple directions or one step commands: This sign of a potential speech/language delay can sometimes be tricky for parents to recognize, as we often pair our instructions with gestures to help our children learn what we are saying. Although this is a great strategy to improve their understanding, we also want to ensure that our toddlers are able to follow simple, familiar directions without gestures. This generally develops between 1-2 years of age and increases with the amount of directions they can follow as they age. (i.e. “give me ball” or “kiss the baby”).

  7. Not imitating or copying you: Imitation or copying you is one of the most important skills for your child’s speech and language development. This is why social games such as “pat-a-cake” are so important to play with your babies and toddlers. Children start by imitating our actions and then progress to imitating our sounds and words in order to develop their speech. If your child is struggling in this area, it is recommended that you contact an SLP.

  8. Frustration or increased behaviors related to communication: If you are starting to recognize some frustration or increased behaviors because your child is not able to effectively communicate with those in their environment, it would be a good idea to consult with an SLP. These behaviors and tantrums can be so frustrating for both the child and family, and it is important to provide your child with the support they need in order to be able to develop effective communication skills.


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