36 answers

16 Month Old Not Talking Yet...

I have a 16 month old son. I recently took him to the doc and he said that my son should be saying 20 words or so by now. My son does not. He does more pointing and saying "uh, uh" than anything. However, he understands what I tell him. He will throw things in the garbage when asked, get his shoes and socks and put things away. I can ask him where his nose is and he will point to his nose and say "na". He understands what no means. He knows what his cup and blanket are. We talk to him all of the time. For example, when getting dressed I will point out his socks, shoes, pants, shirt and so on. I have two older children who are 10 and 8. They were little soooo long ago I just can't remember how it was when they started talking. Is this something that I should be worried about? Are there other creative ideas that I could do to help him to talk?

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I went through pretty much the same thing. It wasn't just my third child though. All of my children have been late talkers and early walkers. All of my sisters kids were the opposite. Who knows. Some times family can inhibit the development through making things to easy for the child. I don't mean that in a bad way though. Sometimes a child wont crawl because the family always gets things for them and never makes them reach. And sometimes we know what they mean or want with their grunts. So, They learn that it's okay to not use word. They all catchup to one another eventually so good luck and don't' let the doctor scare you. Not all kids fit in the cookie cutter mold.

Doctors are ridiculous -- they of all people should know that kids all have different levels of doing things. She's probably really good at something else that some kids are not. If she's 3 and not talking yet, then I would think about speech therapy. My daughter was the same way.

I personally feel that he will in his own time. You might need to be worried if he still isn't talking at all in a year or so. If he is making progress he is probably fine. Every kid learns things differenly and has different priorities.

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When my son was about this age, he wasn't talking yet at all. (Your son actually sounds miles ahead of where mine was.) Our pedictrician suggested we wait until he was two to determine if we should intervene. So we waited and it became apparent that he would need intervention. So we had his hearing tested - which took a month or so. Then we applied to the Health and Welfare Infant Toddler program that tests and supplies therapy for underdeveloped children. It took about 6 months before we finally received help for our son. But the program phases the kids into the school districts at 3 years old, so he was only in the toddler program for 6 months. Now he is 3 1/2 and in preschool and starting to talk and catch up with his development. He has had about 8 months of intervention since we determined he needed help 18 months ago.
Anyway, my suggestion is if your pediatrician feels it may be necessary, start the process of testing and analysis now. You can always quit if he is fine or just starts talking. But you can't get the time back if you wait. The therapists that test will also have great ideas on how to encourage his speech and other development. I wish we had the opportunity to start earlier since there is a long waiting list for testing and therapy. Getting help with your child doesn't mean there is something wrong with him; it just means you want to give him the best start to his life.

This is totally normal for a third child. Usually the baby of the family is listening and understanding more than you know!! It is very common for the youngest child to not talk at all and then — one day — start talking like they knew it all along. Be patient, I bet your little one will surprise you soon. ;o)

I have a friend that her daughter had the same problem. She is almost two also and doesn't talk at all. What her problem was is she had a pacifier for so long that is hurt her speech. So I don't know if you use a pacifier if so I would start to encourage it to be going "bye bye." Also, in my opinion maybe he isn't ready to talk. I teach two and three year olds and some of them when they come to my class, they cannot speak. They do understand though. I would give it some more time.

Also just a thought. I don't know if you do this but, when you talk to him, talk to him like a grown up. Do not use baby talk. Studies show that that can impair speech. Yes, I know there are people that have spoke baby talk to their child and they spoke fine, I am just stating studies. These are just some ideas. I don't know if you already to these.

Your child sounds obedient and a very sweet child. It is probably he is not ready.



My little guy didn't say a word until 19 months. Nothing. Now he's talking nonstop. Don't worry. Give it more time and keep talking to him a lot.

Have your Pediatrician recommend you to Developmental Pathways a/k/a Child Find. Our son wasn't really speaking at all by 18 months old, therefore we had him evaluated for speech therapy. He was given speech therapy and it was the best decision we could have ever made for him. That's where I would start! Good luck! K.

Child Find is great. We have worked with Clarisse Simonini ###-###-#### as well. She will at least give you an idea of if you need to be concerned. She has helped our older son, but she did refer our younger one to Children's. We found her name was helpful getting in there. I love her, and so do both my boys!! She is at the Colorado Center for Speech and Hearing or something like that. We really liked the care we got with Child Find, but I never followed through with the therapist since we got in at Children's First. A key we found to getting in at Children's is taking the temporary spots move you up on the waiting list. GL! The only goal I remember is 50 words by 18 months and a lot (150 or 200) by around 2. We're maybe there. I may be off on my numbers, though. We didn't make the goals, so I tried not to stress about them. Clarisse knows the numbers off the top of her head. She's in the office Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you leave her a message before then, she'll call you Tuesday.

Call Child Find. Its a program thats paid for by the State of Colorado, Developemental Disabilities. Your child qualifies based on their needs. It doesn't matter if you make millions and have the best insurance, if your child needs speech therapy they will provide it to you.

Their # is 1-888-777-4041. They will evalute your child in their office. If you qualify they will send a speech therapist to your home. Probably will be once a week. Its an awesome program. My son and I have been part of it since January 2008. Let me know if you have more questions about the program.

Also, heres their website

You are doing the right thing by being proactive and doing something about it now!

He may just be a late bloomer but get his hearing tested. I thought my son was a late talker and it turned out he was functionally deaf. He had intermittant hearging loss due to a dairy sensitivity. We ended up dealing with 2 1/2 years of speach therapy and it was frustrating for him, we could have avoide a lot of that if his hearing had been tested earlier.

I'd say to follow your instinct and if you want to talk to a speech therapist to make you feel better, that is completely fine.

As for me, I have a 19 month old that says about 10 words. My doctor is okay with that because he understands so much and responds so well.

I also have a funny story about my brother. He did not say a word until he was over 2 years old. It was February and all of a sudden he walked into the room singing the first line of Jingle Bells over and over again. My parents were stunned. After that, he was talking in almost complete sentences. He's now 22...got straight A's his whole life and then received a $250,000 scholarship to college. He is a smart kid...so just because he didn't talk for a while didn't mean he was delayed. I guess that's why I'm not so worried about my child.

But look into any reasources that will make you feel better. There's no harm in that.


Relax. Stop worrying. If he understands what you say and can follow directions, then odds are, his hearing is fine. My son was the same way. He didn't talk but he followed directions and understood what was said to him. Our Pediatrition wasn't worried and said if he turned 2 and still wasn't talking shortly after that, then we'd look at other things.

Come to find out, our son was just storing up the information! When he turned 2yrs old he started talking - in sentences!! And hasn't stopped - some days I wish for the quiet days we used to have! LOL.

Relax. He'll talk when he's ready.

Blessings -

My son just turned 2 and is now just talking. He did the "uh-uh" thing until I thought I was going to go crazy! He too is very smart and understands everything we tell or ask him to do. You just have to remember that boys are a little slower than girls and he will talk when he is ready. I had a real hard time remembering that because my daughter was talking in sentences when she was 18 months old and she never whined or did the "uh-uh" thing. You will survive until you son talks, I promise. Until then, just try not to go crazy! Good Luck!!

Doctors are ridiculous -- they of all people should know that kids all have different levels of doing things. She's probably really good at something else that some kids are not. If she's 3 and not talking yet, then I would think about speech therapy. My daughter was the same way.

My daughter came out talking I swear!! She was very verbal and articulate early on. She wasn't interested in crawling until later and same with walking.
Then I had my son, expected the same path and I was way wrong.
He could say maybe 6 words at the year mark if that.
He however was crawling at 7 mos and walking at 11 mos.
I worried a little but my Pediatrician felt I needed to give it some more time. By the time he was two his vocabulary took off. At two he was a chatterbox. He is still at four sometimes hard to understand. He had ear infections alot and tubes put in at 2 1/2 which helped him tremendously as far as the ENT said he probably felt like he lived under water with all the fluid build up in his ears.

Now he is a happy, healthy and talkative 4 year old.
I would give it six mos, don't get him anything with grunts, if he wants something repeat to him what it is and entice him to say it back to you. Does he say mamma, dadda, goggie (for dog), or anything legible?

My son said those words, then Ba for ball and mimi for his sisters name. I would say right around that 18 mos mark things really improved tremendously for him and even moreso after the tubes.
If you have had his hearing double checked, then if they clear that just work with him. Some kids just do things differently then others and at different paces. Main thing is don't just respond to grunts but encourage him always to repeat it back, just say "can you say...."...give him a chance to say it. Especially with older siblings, he doesn't have to communicate as much , so make sure your older kids help him by not just getting what he wants without the encouragement to say it first.
Good luck, keep us updated.

My son was the same way. I didn't worry to much and now I'm kicking my self. he is almost 3 and still really behind on his speech. He is working with a speech therapist and we are getting his hearing tested. If I were you I would get him started with a speech therapist and if they think it is needed have his hearing tested just to make sure that isn't the problem. I know my son isn't deaf because he does understand what i tell him like you little one but there is obviously something wrong with my sons hearing and I suggest not waiting to long to get yours checked, even just for your own peace of mind.

Your doctor is CRAZY!!!

Sorry..., I'll calm down now. :) I have a 17 month old son- he says, "Eeow" (Meow), "Uh-oh", and... I think that's it! He's jibber-jabbering a lot ("unknown words").

You're doing AWESOME with your child (pointing out all the things to him...), so don't worry about it AT ALL. It's not like you're going to be able to "force" him to say any other words sooner. But he sounds completely normal! RELAX!!! :)

(I also have a 6 yo and a 4 1/2 yo)


Don't worry at all. Kids do things at completely different ages. My daughter didn't speak a word till she turned 3! She's 11 now, brilliant in school and doing very well. It is frustrating for a child to be in that situation but they will do it when ready. There is also wonderful, free speech therapy available for kids that dont' talk. Contact your closest elementary school & ask them for a referral.


My little boy didn't talk early either. I was worried about him not talking, but like your son he understood everything, but didn't talk. He is 2 and when around anyone other than my husband, myself, and kids he still won't talk much. He is more of an observer. Infact his first word was bicycle. He had to figure out everything before he would talk. Now, when he talks, he sounds like a 4 year old. He also has a photographic memory. I don't think I would worry about it just yet.

My oldest was the same way. Understood us fine, but didn't really have a desire to repeat. A friend told me about signing time. I can't remember when it's on tv, but I'm pretty sure it's on UEN on Mondays and Fridays or something. IMPORTANT: I'm sure you know you can't just plop them down in front of the tv and walk away. I recorded several of the episodes and we watched them over and over again together. Signing time teaches basic sign language for every day words. My daughter loved it. They use children to say the word and it's repeated over and over and over again while introducing the sign. It was actually fun for me to learn with my daughter and now she's helping me teach our 18 month old. During the day, I try to use the signs whenever I can. She learned the signs, but the repetition of hearing other children say the words seemed to be a big help also. You can buy them on DVD, also. She's 4 now and sometimes I can't shut her up! It's worth trying before spending money on speech therapy!

I am the oldest of five children. It seemed the further along in the order my siblings were the longer it took them to talk. Maybe when you are the youngest you just can't get a word in edgewise! Number four in my family didn't say anything until he was two and my parents were getting a bit worried. One day he had escaped from the house twice and been caught in his diaper, rubber boots and a hat heading across the driveway. Once back in the house the second time he stood at the window staring longingly at the barn. Finally he clearly said "rabbits." He wanted to go see the rabbits. He hadn't said anything before this but after saying rabbits all he did was talk.

Based on what you describe, I wouldn't be worried. My first was using full words at 12mos, but my 2nd is 15mos and nowhere near using full words. Each child is so different. I do remember well, when my oldest was 1 and talking, people would stop me in the store asking me how on earth I got him to talk "so early." I thought it was odd at the time, but I understand now just how unusual it was. My nephew who was the same age didn't talk until he passed his 2nd birthday and he is fine. I wouldn't worry, he can understand you. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with you encouraging him. My first had the incentive of wanting things, when he wanted them... he hated waiting for me to guess until I got it right. So he learned to talk to get what he wanted. My second isn't so concerned, he's just happy to be with me. Personality plays a big role in it.

Try not to stress about it. Believe me, I know how hard it is not too! My son was only saying 3 words by the time has was 18 months (mom,dad,and hot). Everyone says that children will either be mobile or verbal and both of mine are very mobile. My son was 2 1/2 before he started talking a lot and according to the doctors he's behind on how much he should be saying (they can make you feel bad can;t they?) He could understand us just like your child but just couldn't get the words out. Now that he's 3 I know he's still a little behind but he sure can talk, talk, talk! He'll figure it out someday. Every child is different. Don't beat yourself up!

i think it's hilarious that people assume a child's intelligence can be measured. not so. your son is fine, he will learn, do, and speak in his own time. don't worry and don't get frustrated, from what you've written i'd say he's right where he needs to be given that he understands and can communicate with you.

It sounds like our boys are a lot alike. Mine is 17 months old and also only saying a couple of words (apparently they don't count animal sounds as words or he would have about 10). Anyway, I have just recently started him in a program called Up to 3... It is so much fun. They do all kinds of assessments (gross motor, fine motor, hearing, speech, etc) to find out what needs the child has. Then depending on if they qualify or not (sounds like your son would at least qualify for speech like mine does) they set them up with the therapists they need. It is also on a sliding fee schedule and they will take into account if you have other bills that would make it difficult to pay. Our fee was supposed to be $20 a month but because we have a lot of medical bills right now we don't have to pay a thing. They also reimburse you for gas to take them to and from the classes. Anyway, I wasn't really worried about my son but I would definitely recommend this program. Anything to help them excel is important in my book! Let me know if you need more information. I could send you phone numbers of my coordinator. Best of Luck!

S., the 20 words or so is a benchmark. The doctor isn't making a judement on you or anything by saying he 'should' be using 20 words; he's just letting you know the norm. Most kids will be saying that many words, but not all. I wouldn't panic that he isn't talking that much yet. You may want to start some simple interventions. Call the doctor and ask for some tips (if he hasn't aready given you some). It sounds like you are talking a lot to your son. Keep doing that, but also pause and let him 'answer' you (even if its just making noise). Ask him what things are (body, clothes, pictures in books, etc). Whatever he says, say "yes, that's a ____ ." He may actually be using more words than you think but not saying them clearly (you've gotten used to how older kids talk!). 'Na' counts as a word if he uses it for nose. So do 'hi' and 'byebye' and other things he uses to identify things even if he's not saying the word just right. Just keep restating for him and he'll learn the right way to say it.

If there is an issue with his speech, early interventions will be important (a lot of what I said above counts). But chances are that he's just developing somewhere else right now and before you know it he'll be ready to start talking up a storm.

I have been in your shoes. My son has been in speech therapy for 4 years now. Most programs will start at about age 2yrs. I know its fustrating and difficult, but you are doing all the right things. Just hang in there, keep up all your talking to him, and at age 2 address your concerns with your pediatrician who then can recommend a free program for testing.
One thing that helped my son tons was bubble blowing. It helps all those jaw muscles move and the kids love it!


I don't think this is something for you to worry about. I used to do developmental assessments with infants 0-18 mos old. While the average 18 month old does have about 20 words, there is a LOT of variability in children's language development. Being able to understand words is an important skill, and it sounds like he's right where he should be with that part of his language development.

Some children (boys especially) are growing so quickly that they need to focus their brain power on their motor skills. When their growth slows, and their motor skills are already quite advanced, they often move on to their language skills. I've seen this with many children.

The best way to promote language skills is to talk to your child and read him books. Even if you're relaxing together and watching pbs kids, you can talk to him about the things you are watching on the television. I see that you have two other children, and I'm sure they talk to the new baby as well.

When he's 2, you should see a nice explosion in words, and you should see him experimenting with more words. If he doesn't seem to understand what you ask him to do, doesn't make consonant vowel sounds (which it sounds like he's already doing with "na" for example), or try to engage you with any words by the time he's 2, you can talk to your pediatrician more. To me, it sounds like your son is already doing these things.

I just read that Albert Einstien didn't talk until he was three. Everyone does things in thier own time. I know it's hard to wait, but I think he sounds fine. Try to just be encouraging and patient!

Hi S. - there are responses all across the board in response to your request but I would highly recommend that you consider having your little guy tested for a speech delay. Your son sounds so much like my little guy - happy, very smart, active, interactive, able to perform tasks beyond his age . . . but doesnt have a lot of clear language.

If you live in Colorado, there is a Dept of Education called ChildFind that offers speech, hearing, and cognitive assessments for FREE to help identify kids with delays as early as possible. The links are listed at the bottom of this message. There are other states that offer this program as well. They have programs for kids between birth and 21. They have a program specifically for kids 18m -36mos. You don't have to wait until he is 18mos to call them and set up the appt. for testing.

I had my son tested when he was just shy of 2 but I had been talking to my pediatrician about my concerns since my son was 15months old. I knew about Child Find because my niece is receiving speech therapy from them but I didnt call because I thought I was over-reacting, my doc said he was probably okay, just "behind the curve', etc. etc. I did all the things people said in these messages.

Finally, I knew I just had to take control of the situation and I called Developmental Pathways, part of the Child Find Program. They told me that I could have him tested for free. They reassured me that if he qualified for services, then we were on our way to solving his problem. If he didnt qualify, then I would gain some peace of mind and they could offer some strategies that I could implement on my own.

My son was tested as being 6-8 months behind on his expressive language and 4-6 months behind on language comprehension. They tested his hearing a couple of times as well and determined he had intermittent fluid in his ears. Temp hearing loss is probably what caused his delay. I was amazed because he is a really smart little kid and could do things my first son couldnt do until much later. Our speech therapist comes to my home 4 times a month for an hour to work with my son. His progress has been really fast and fun to watch. My only regret is that I wasted 6months at the beginning. I encourage you not to wait and have him tested. If he's fine - then wonderful! But if he needs help, then there is a program available to help you where he could be receiving 18months of speech therapy help for free.

Please feel free to write to me if you have any questions or feel like you need any encouragement during the process.

Best of all things to you and your little man!!


Homepage for Child find of Colorado:


Directory of Offices (choose the one in your school district):


My niece is 16 months old and she doesn't talk yet either. I don't remember how old my daughter was when she first started talking (that was 8 yrs ago). I think you are doing great by talking to him all the time and when you get him dressed, you point to or pick things up and tell him what they are. Also, its great that he does hear you and do what you say. I see my niece so infrequently that I don't know how she does with that. I would say, keep doing what you are doing. He will start talking when he feels he has something to say. You can also read to him or have your older children read to him with picture books and point out things in the pictures and see if he will copy what you/they say. If you are concerned though, you can always have his hearing tested. One other thing....we found this with my little brother...He was the youngest of 5. He was a late talker and walker because every time he would point to something, we would talk for him and even pick him up and take him to where something was because it was easier and quicker. Try and make sure that your older children aren't doing that. He may feel that if he has people talking for him, he doesn't need to.

HI S.,

I didn't read all your responses so I apologize if this is a repeat. My daughter did not talk until she was 3, now she is 4 and amazes all of us! We actually can't get her to be quiet, ever. A couple of things, she was our 3rd child and didn't have a real need to talk because she would point or make sounds and everyone including her older brothers would jump and do things for her. Since he is understanding and making connections I wouldn't be too worried, but if you are, depending where you live there is an organization called, Child Find and they set us up with a speech therapist, free of cost to work with us. We worked with them for over a year and they had no real diagnosis but also saw that our daughter did not speak, then a few days after she turned 3 she started speaking in sentences. Good Luck!!!

I personally feel that he will in his own time. You might need to be worried if he still isn't talking at all in a year or so. If he is making progress he is probably fine. Every kid learns things differenly and has different priorities.

When you have other children it's natural to make a comparison with when the others started speaking. Equally, to think he's too young, he'll grow out of it; it'll get better on its own.
The best thing to do is to treat each child individually.

Check against national standards by looking at developmental charts for his age. This will give you more of an objective look at how well he's doing.


If this raises a concern. Talk to your pediatrician with the evidence you have. Ask for a referral to Developmental pathways for speech language testing.Ask for ASQ test http://asq.uoregon.edu/

If your son is fine then you needed not worry. But if he need some help the early the intervention the better. You are his best advocate if you can *tell* *feel* something's wrong get it checked it does no harm. Language is too important and easily helped.

Early diagnosis and treatment of developmental delays can help give your child the best opportunity to reach his full potential.

We have had speech with 2 of our boys. Early noticing makes all the difference. We didn't pay. It's a free program.
They will give you plenty of fun suggestions targeted to your child's needs.

Here's an interesting article
Should Parents "Wait and See" When it Comes to Language Intervention?


More great articles

Hope that helps. Good luck

I went through pretty much the same thing. It wasn't just my third child though. All of my children have been late talkers and early walkers. All of my sisters kids were the opposite. Who knows. Some times family can inhibit the development through making things to easy for the child. I don't mean that in a bad way though. Sometimes a child wont crawl because the family always gets things for them and never makes them reach. And sometimes we know what they mean or want with their grunts. So, They learn that it's okay to not use word. They all catchup to one another eventually so good luck and don't' let the doctor scare you. Not all kids fit in the cookie cutter mold.


When I read about your 16 month old...it was uncanny. I have a now 2 1/2 year old who only points at things and says "uh-uh". He understands everything I tell him or ask him to do, but will not verbalize what he needs. I, too, have older children (ages 13, 10, 8) who everyone says he isn't talking because all his siblings talk for him.

I took him to his pediatrician and we discussed my options. Yes, some children are slow talkers and it was possible that if I waited he would speak on his own. However, I was finding that he was getting frustrated at me not understanding him. His pediatrician told me as he gets older and continues not speaking, he will get more and more frustrated not being able to verbalize what he needs/wants.

We have a program in our school districts called "Early Intervention". I took him a couple months ago for testing to see if he qualifies. He did and so once a month a speech therapist comes into our home and works with him and gives me information and helps me to know how to work with him during the month. By the way, when I took him in, he was only saying 4 words...mama, dada, bye, hi...everything else was "uh-uh-uh". The program is very affordable. They look at your income and most people pay between $20-$40 a month. I have found that already this program is working and he's atarting to say a few more words. Hopefully, as we continue, he will use words more and more and the "uh-uh" less and less.

Who knows, maybe your little guy will eventually talk on his own, and you may want to give it a little time. This is just my story, but it sounded so similar to yours that I wanted to let you know what we've done. Get on your school districts web site and see if there is a program for this. Good Luck!!!

Have you tried Baby Sign Language? Research has shown that babies respond very well to visual language. You can find book at large bookstores and videos are also available. The ones I love and have really helped my daughter (who is now 15 months) learn sign language are the "Baby Signing Time" videos. I think there are only 2 of them and you might have to order them from the internet www.babysigingtime.com or maybe amazon has them. There are regular Signing time videos but the Baby ones are cuter and more fun. Baby Sign Language is easy to do use, just sign and speak at the same time and your son will catch on. My daughter speaks about 15 words and signs about 10-15 signs. It doesn't inhibit speech it enforces language. Good luck!

My son is 20 months old now and I found that he started talking a lot more when we would ask him to say the words of the things we were pointing out to him. If you tell him this is a shoe, then ask him, "Can you say shoe?". Then you know how he pronounces the words and can encourage him from there. I know that is pretty basic and you are probably already doing this. We have also worked with just having him practice making sounds (like going through the vowel sounds and moving on to b, f, k, sh, etc.) while looking in the mirror with us. I also have him watch the "Your Baby Can Read" DVDs sometimes and it seems like it has really helped him to increase his vocabulary. We haven't worked with him enough to teach him to read but the program has definitely helped him with language. I have been sort of a nut about teaching him language so that it is easier to communicate with him which leads to less tears for both of us!

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