6 Signs of Speech Delay In Your Toddler

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Every parent waits eagerly for their toddler’s first word. Not only is it cute, but it also gives your baby an ability to express his or her wants and needs. This is probably the best moment of any parent’s life, to hear their toddler speak for the first time.

While this is common, it is also true that there are many toddlers who face speech delay. If your toddler is still waiting to speak the first word, don’t panic yet.

Language And Speech Delay In Toddlers:

Though they may sound the same thing, in reality, speech and language delays are different from each other. Speech delay refers to the delay in producing sound by organs like the vocal cord, mouth tongue teeth etc., while language delay is the delay in using knowledge of language.

A toddler may be delayed in speech but not in language. For instance, a toddler may attempt to build up language but it would be difficult for him to understand due to speech delay.

[ Read: How To Teach Toddlers To Write ]

Signs Of Speech Delay:

Beginning from 12 month if your toddler does not perform the following, it is something you should immediately check with your doctor:

1. 12 To 15 Months:

By this age, your toddler should start saying simple words like mama, papa.

Should be using gestures like:

  • Pointing
  • Waving
  • Vocalizing

2. 18 To 24 Months:

By this age, your toddler should be able to point out few body parts like nose, teeth, eyes and so on.

Should be able to:

  • Imitate action and sound.
  • Speak at least 15 words, or 2 word sentence.

[ Read: How To Teach Toddler To Read ]

3. 19 To 24 Months:

By this age, your toddler should be able to learn new words each week.

Should be able to:

  • Follow direction and commands
  • Use spontaneous word
  • Identify family members well

Most parents think that their children do not follow their instruction. Sometimes, this could also be a result of another valid reason, like hearing and vision inadequacy. Such things generally cause speech delay.

Reasons For Delayed Speech Development In Toddlers:

Speech and language delay is the most common developmental delay. There can be a number of reasons behind it:

  • Hearing loss due to infection.
  • Autism which leads to impairment in social activities.
  • Learning disabilities.
  • Exposure to different language at a time.
  • Problem in the brain or central nervous system.
  • Larynx problem.

[ Read: Learning Activities For Toddlers ]


If your doctor confirms that your child is suffering from developmental delay, you should visit a specialist who works with children.

Here is how most specialists will proceed with the treatment:

  • Speech therapy is used by most speech pathologists.
  • Treatment for ear infection or hearing test.
  • Holistic Method for speech induction which includes rhythmic breathing techniques, myokinetic exercises etc.
  • Therapies for children who have autism.
  • Sign language.

How To Help A Child With Speech Delay?

If your child’s hearing is fine but still there is speech delay, here is what you can do to help:

  1. Talk more with your child. Verbalize everything, example, mamma is cooking, as baby needs to eat food.
  2. Ask questions to your toddlers. Encourage them to answer.
  3. Read books aloud. Let your child hear it and pronounce.
  4. Spend quality time together.
  5. Make your child socialize more with other kids.
  6. Never criticize your child’s speech.
  7. Don’t lose patience. Let your child develop naturally.
  8. If everything fails and you see no improvement, seek help from your pediatrician.

Effect On Children:

Speech and language delay can have the following effects on children:

  • The child may tend to suffer from behavioral, social and emotional problems, both in childhood as well as adulthood.
  • A gradual decline in learning
  • Difficulty in reading and understanding
  • Problems with bonding with peers
  • Communication issues
  • Lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.

[ Read: Emotional Development In Children ]

While speech and language delay in children is something that can make any parent worry, it is also important to remember that all children reach developmental milestones at a different age and pace. Your child may not be speaking right now, but chances are, he will speak more than his friends in a few months’ time.

Do discuss the delays with your child’s doctor, but remember never to force your child to reach a milestone. In case the doctor confirms that there is a delay, talk about the various therapies that can be used and select what is best for your child.

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