Toddler Doesn’t Talk Much: Should I Worry?
You asked and now you shall receive. It’s only fair for us to share all of this stored up knowledge about toddlers and what happens when they start toddling (and talking)! We will now answer, in a very public forum, all of those burning questions about children in their second year. Each month, we will tackle a commonly-asked-question from the point of view of a parent with a toddler. Chiming in to give her feedback will be an expert who has been there and done that. Earmark, share and add your own input to today’s question; it’s good karma.
My toddler isn’t talking much yet. Should I be worried?
Between 18 and 24 months, toddlers begin to rely on some words to communicate their needs and wants, but expressive or speaking language still lags behind their receptive language or understood language. As toddlers begin using words, they add approximately three new words a month to their vocabulary.
Language acquisition is on a continuum. By 24 months, toddlers may know between 20 to 200 words and some 24-month-old toddlers may even have some simple grammar and two-word sentences.
By three years, a typical toddler may have around 1000 words. This developmental step, like all other areas of growth, happens on a continuum. Some toddlers will begin to talk at 18 months and some by 21 or 22 months.
After your toddler ‘s second birthday, if he has only a few words, is not combining two or more words, or does not seem to understand simple instructions or questions, check in with your pediatrician to eliminate any concerns about hearing or language delays.
Continue to support your toddler’s language development by talking and reading books (don’t worry if your child gets off your lap and wanders while you read – she is still listening) Point out objects you see around you – including colors and shapes – and ask open ended questions, sing, and use rhymes.
Try not to focus on how your toddler is pronouncing words. And don’t worry that your toddler may have delayed language because you used sign language with him or speak multiple languages at home – research is continuing to show that language is not delayed in any significant way and, in fact, may help with acquiring language skills.
Marsha Greenberg is a therapist in New York City. She is the author of the newly released book, Raising Your Toddler, by Globe Pequot Press. She has masters degrees in Child and Family Development and Social Work from the University of Michigan. As the Director of the Health Systems Child Care Program for over 14 years, she was responsible for over 250 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years of age. Marsha teaches in the Early Childhood Special Education department at NYU and has a private psychotherapy practice in NYC. Marsha is the mother of three grown sons and has three grandsons (aged 4 and 18 months and 4 months) with a new grandchild on the way.