Are you worried that your toddler hasn’t started talking?It is important to know that all children are not the same. The fact that your neighbour/friend’s child started talking before yours does not mean they will be more intelligent than your children.
Your child’s transition from a tiny little baby to toddler is really miraculous. There is a lot of emphasis in our culture on when our babies and toddlers speak, and the first word becomes a big deal.We become worried when feel our toddler is not reaching those amazing language milestones as quickly as his or her little friends.
It is important to remember that there is a big range in language development, with early talkers who may have a few words even before they are 12 months old and late talkers not saying much by their second birthday.
How many words should my toddler be able to say?
At 18 months, toddlers at generally have around 20 words that they use – though it is generally the case that only their close family recognise all these words as they have their own cute ways of saying things!
The interesting thing is that for every word your toddler can say, he probably understands about 50 more words. You would expect him to be able to follow simple requests before he can speak, and this is easy to test. Although this is not speaking, the understanding of the words and the following of the request are hugely important stages in language and communication development.
Vocabulary isn’t everything – there is so much more to language development than speaking. Before speaking children learn lots of other skills such as listening and having non-verbal conversations. In time, children begin to understand that words are symbols for real things in the world.
How can I help my toddler’s language development?
You can do lots of things to help language to develop.
- Even before babies can talk fluently you can have lots of conversations where you give them a chance to respond, even if it is just a smile or sticking their tongues out!
- Take time to describe what your baby or toddler is doing;
- Describe what you are doing, for example: “I am jumping.”
- Remember the nursery rhymes you know and sing them together.
- Share picture books.
When should I seek help with my toddler’s language development?
If you are concerned that your toddler is really behind and not communicating or interacting like other toddlers, it is always best to follow your instinct.
- Speak to your GP quickly, don’t wait. Ask for a hearing test so you are sure everything is fine.
- You can ask your doctor to refer your child to your local speech and language therapist.
- A speech and language therapist will arrange to check a toddler’s hearing and also assess listening skills, language comprehension, vocabulary etc