Child Speech Development:
When the Words Emerge Too Slowly

As with all other forms of development, there are basic guidelines and averages that most toddlers follow when it comes to child language development. It is perfectly normally, though, for a toddler to lag behind in some area of development, or maybe all parts of development, by a number of weeks. Maybe your toddler is just a late bloomer.

If your toddler was born prematurely, then it is important to observe their development according to their corrected age. That is, if your 12-month-old child was born two months early, then you should compare her development to what is normal for a 10-month-old.

However, if your toddler is more than several weeks behind in the development schedule, then it is a good idea to have a talk with her pediatrician. Here is a general guide of when you should be concerned about your toddler�s delayed speech and language development:

By 12 months�
- Is unable to convey his need for help
- Doesn�t practice a few consonant sounds
- Isn�t using common gestures like waving

By 15 months�
- Isn�t saying "mama" or "dada"
- Is unable to say any words
- Doesn�t understand or respond to simple words like "no"

By 18 months�
- Vocabulary is less than six words
- Is unable to understand much of what is said to him

By 24 Months�
- Isn�t mimicking words or actions of those around her
- Is unable to form short phrases
- Doesn�t know what common household objects are for
- Is unable to find a named picture in a book
- Says less than 20 words

By 30 Months�
- Names fewer than three body parts
- Members of household have troubles understanding toddler

By 36 Months�
- Isn�t asking questions
- People outside the home have a hard time understanding toddler
- Can�t name common objects around the home
- Says less than 25 words

Learn how to encourage your toddler�s language development and find out if you should be worried about your child�s language skills.

If your toddler seems to have delayed language development, discuss the issue with their pediatrician. Language problems can often be remedied in a relatively short time, either through your pediatrician�s recommendations or by taking your toddler to a speech pathologist.

You don't have to deal with your special needs child all on your own. Talk with parents of other special needs children in our forum.