25 answers

18 Month Old Not Talking

Hi moms, I will like to know what to do? My 18 month old is not talking. He point at things that he wants and will makes sounds but does not speak any actual words - not even "mama" or "dada" or "no" I would expect kids around his age group to talk. We have been reading to him since he was a few weeks old and now he loves books. He will pick a book up and bring it to me and turn pages and point at pictures and makes sounds but no words. He looks at kids shows and we talk to him alot. He will respond to us and cartoons by his sounds so I know it is not a hearing problem. Any response on how to go about helping him will be greatly appreciated.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks all, it is great to see how others would react to the situation. I visit his pediatrician on Wednesday and she suggested that we give him 2 months more (until his next appiontment), but if he does not speak by then she will recommend evaluation by early interventions. She did mentioned that he should be speaking but but may take a little longer. In the meantime we are keeping up with the reading, talking and playing and others suggested by you guys. thanks again.

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I have had the same issue with my two sons, they were exposed to 3 languages and I was told that this could be the cause. Today TG they don't stop talking.

Hey I.,
With my first child, I used to give him whatever he wanted when he pointed to it. I found out later, when he was in speech therapy, that you shouldn't do that. I thought I was just being accomodating but what I learned was that you are supposed to say the word to him a number of times when he wants it and repeat it until eventually he asks for it. This isn't going to happen right away but if he gradually tries to ask for it, then don't give it to him until he says the word. In other words, make him work a little for it every time. In my opinion, boys are a little slower in this area and one day he might just start talking. Try not to worry too much about it, my boys were slow talkers and now they talk just fine. It also helps that they are around other kids their age that talk well. I hope this helps.

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we have the same problem and got my grandson is 3 in august and says about 15 words and only where did it go as a sentance
this is it
Yes, in fact, your grandson definitely sounds like he has a language delay. He should have approximately 50-75 words by now and by stringing at least 2 together at a time ("more juice", "baby go", etc.). I do accept Medicaid, however, at this time I my schedule is overflowing. My first suggestion is to call the Early Steps progam at St. Mary's Hospital, Immediately! I say immediately because it takes some time to get tested and qualified and he is only eligible until age 3. You may get a couple of months of therapy (at no charge) but more importantly, he will have an evaluation and may be eligible for Child Find once he turns 3. This is a state program that would make him eligible for a special, free "pre-school" that provides regular speech therapy and child care for several hours a day 3-5 days a week. I highly recommend this avenue because your description of his language is cause for concern. A second option is a prescription from his primary care doctor for a "speech/language evaluation". Medicaid will pay for an eval and possibly treatment. The problem is without a previous evaluation, you may have trouble finding a therapist. As far as Autism goes, don't panic. Children with expressive language delays can have similiar symptoms as Autism. That said, I have never met your grandson and am not a doctor. Therefore, I do not diagnose. I would definitely follow your instincts. In the meantime: 1. Talk to him, ALOT! 2. Talk normally, but slowly. 3. Read as many books with him as possible. Point to pictures and comment on actions (Look, the boy is walking the dog! Now the dog is hungry. Does he want something to eat? What should he feed him?, etc.) . Don't just say "What's this? What's that?" You give a "running commentary" about what's going on in the picture and he may join in). 4. Label items around the house such as animals, foods, colors, shapes, vehicles, keys, toys, bubbles, etc. See if he won't try to imitate you. 5. Focus on front of the mouth sounds (b, p, m, t, d) words are usually easiest (e.g. baby, bubble, doggy, pop, more). Repeat the first sound "B-b-b-b-b" "B-b-b-bubble". 6. Even if he can't or won't say words, try to get him to make choices (by holding up 2-3 items). "Ex: "Do you want milk or cookie?" 7. Try to "drag" language out of him. Even if you know what he wants, try to get him to ask (even if it's only one letter of the word - "m" for milk). Cut this short just short of a tantrum, but this helps alot! The main number to Early Steps is ###-###-#### or direct line ###-###-####. I would call them to find out the exact process to get your grandson tested for a language delay. Again, I am sorry at this time I am unavailable but there are many therapists in the program and they will likely come to you! It takes some effort but it is Definitely worth it! You are his caregivers, and therefore, have so much potential to help him in addition to therapy! You seem dedicated and willing to make the effort. If you can follow the suggestions above DAILY, you will hopefully start to see some changes in his language. I wish you and your family good luck! Feel free to email me back if you have other questions or concerns. Hold on to my email (as I will yours) in case of future changes. Sincerely, Kari DeWeese, M.S., CCC-SLP the following info

1 mom found this helpful

When my first was that age (20 years ago!), it was the same - he would point and sort of grunt when he wanted something, especially a drink, which he knew came from the refrigerator.
My pediatrician pointed out that Marc didn't NEED to SAY what he wanted because I always anticipated or knew what he wanted! So, fairly quickly after I stopped just giving him things, he started saying words. I knew he was extremely smart and when I said, "use your words, what do you want?", he caught on quickly! I think it's not unusual with first-borns or only children, but it could be a sign of developmental problems, so make sure your ped is aware and monitors him.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

its normal, dont pressure too much, and keep going with the books and make sure you talk to him like a person not a baby. It'll happen!

yes, sign language is great!

in the meantime, I would make an appointment w/ you son's doctor & discuss you concerns. if you are still concerned (sounds like you are &, to be honest, I would be too & I'm not saying this to alarm you, just saying this so you can be proactive) then I would contact the 0-3 early intervention program. It's FREE until 3 yrs old, so I would get it now, while it's free...

here's the list of local offices:


I would not worry one bit! Lots of kids (especially boys) don't talk that much at 18 months. My son (20 months now) didn't say too many words by then and now, just 2 months later, he repeats every word you say to him. Your son is probably just concentrating on physical things now - he will start talking soon enough.

Don't worry!

Good Morning,

Much like some of the other responders you have gotten, my son had a hard time speaking. We did have tubes put in his ears & got him speech therapy. He does much better now at 4. Always talk about your developmental concerns with your pediatrician. If you are not getting the answers that make you feel comfortable, ask to speak to specialists. 18 months is still pretty early, however baby chatter is a milestone he should have reached by now. I would not concern yourself witht he Autism label until you have exhausted other avenues, most kids are just slow and need more time. You can do the same thing the speech therapist do in my opinion. I sat in on every session & it's simply repeating the same words over and over & making him repeat the word, let's say ball, before you give him the ball. I hope we have all helped, good luck & God bless.

I went through the same thing with my son. He is now 8. Take him to your pediatrician and ask for a referral to a speech therapist. They have therapy where they will come to your house for children under 3.

I have had the same issue with my two sons, they were exposed to 3 languages and I was told that this could be the cause. Today TG they don't stop talking.

I HAVE BEEN DING SIGN LANGUAGE WITHMY SON -sorry- since he was born. Yeah I know he didnt know what I was doing or saying and half the time neither did I, but at that age it was more about getting myself in the habit of using sign than about him actually learning it. As he got older the signing became more natural and he started to sign back at about 8 month sold. now he is able to say over 10 words and has already began to put 2 word phrases together. He started with "uh-oh" then said "bye-bye" then came "bye-bye dadda" now he has a pretty good vocabulary for his age and still uses signing to fill the gaps that are stillnot being verbalized. I suggest trying to learn some of these most important signs and then incorporating them into your daily routines to help promote your son's vocabulary! Keep up the reading too, we read to our son all the time, since he was born we have read books to him at bedtime, and now he also enjoys having a good book rather than a tv show! Good luck--C.

I think sign language is a great tool to help you communicate with your child but, you want to make sure you don't use this tool in place of encouraging them to speak. I think a speach therapist is your best option. Good Luck!

Hey I.,
With my first child, I used to give him whatever he wanted when he pointed to it. I found out later, when he was in speech therapy, that you shouldn't do that. I thought I was just being accomodating but what I learned was that you are supposed to say the word to him a number of times when he wants it and repeat it until eventually he asks for it. This isn't going to happen right away but if he gradually tries to ask for it, then don't give it to him until he says the word. In other words, make him work a little for it every time. In my opinion, boys are a little slower in this area and one day he might just start talking. Try not to worry too much about it, my boys were slow talkers and now they talk just fine. It also helps that they are around other kids their age that talk well. I hope this helps.

My daughter didn't talk much at that age either (and the doctor wasn't very concerned) At around 10 months old I started taking her to sign and sing (it is a sign class by kindermusic) and all the signs that we did do are the words that she has learned to speak first. I have now bought the baby einstein videos baby wordsworth (I have 2 of them but I think they have come out with a 3rd) She is now 26 months old and talks a lot!! She watches the DVDs in the car so I haven't really seen them much myself but she started saying and signing things that I didn't know yet (like table and refrigerator) I think that signing has a rang of benefits for children, it helps them communicate the words that they can't say and broadens their vocabulary.
Have you talked to his doctor at all?

Go to an ENT (ears, nose and throat) Doctor. My son had a lot of trouble talking also and we found out that he need tubes and he could not hear because he had fluid in his ears the consistence of jello. He has been going to a Speech Therapist and he is 3 now and starting to talk up a storm. So have his hearing checked. Good luck!!!!!

My son was (and still is) the same way. He turned two in March. I would share my concerns with my pediatrician. I did and we got hearing testing. One of my friends (she's no longer) said my son probably had autism. Which really scared me, but she said this the first time she has ever met my son. Myself, family, friends and my pediatrician (all of whom have known my son since birth!) assured me that this is NOT the case. The practitioner who tested his hearing also did a development assessment, and he was slightly behind in his verbal skills, but was considered a month or two advanced in his nonverbal.

My son is two and still refers to a car as "voooom" not a car. He LOVES cars, they're his favorite things. He just likes to call them "vooom". Boys often develop later than girls. It wasn't until he turned two (beginning daycare also might have had a hand in it)that my son started to verbally communicate.

If you really want to put your mind at ease, simple talk to your pediatrician about getting a development assessment for your son. If anything it will put your mind at ease. But from what you wrote I would say that everything is fine. He's showing you his knowledge of things simply in a nonverbal way. But I'm not a doctor, so I would speak to a professional just to be sure.

Hope this helps.

Albert Einstein did not talk until he was 4 yrs old!! do not rush anything. It will happen in time.
But if you need to be proactive, teach your DS Sign Language or find someone who does. Studies show kids who learn to Sign talk earlier and get less frustrated. And it is a cool way to communicate!

Hi I.,
I think Cindy had a great point! My son didn't talk until 20 plus months and then he would make a grunt sound for some things he would want to say! I thought he had a problem....not too worried though... He loved books like yours! He talked well after 2 years. Now he is my first born of three boys and is five years old. He is a little brain and so don't worry yet! Might be like Cindy said.... I probably anticipated what he wanted too much! My 19 month old son is great at talking, but I also treated him differently. I made him express what he wanted more and didn't give in right away.
Have fun with your cute little boy!


Sign language is great. We started at 6 months but they catch on quickly at this age. BabyFirst t.v has a sign language segment that my daughter loves. We Tivo them.

I would have a hearing test conducted for sure. If that turned out ok I would then consider a speech therapist but only if he wasn't saying ANYTHING at 22 months or so. I've seen so many boys not say a word then BAM! talking up a storm on either side of the 2nd birthday. Good Luck!

Speaking to your child is great. My child took her time talking. We used simple sign language while we spoke. I had her hearing and vision checked just to rule out obvious medical issues. Then one day, she discovered her voice and has been talking up a storm ever since.

As long as he has been checked by a pediatrician, don't worry about it. If he still isn't talking by two, have him rechecked.

Call Child Find. They will have him tested for speech and if he needs it will be provided with Speech Therapy for free until he is 3. Starting him early is the key.

Dear Indie,
I had this "problem" with my second daughter. She was a late talker. When I say late, I mean she wasn't talking until she was well past 3 years old (saying some words only). The doc said that all children are different and to stop comparing my child to other children who were actively talking. I had my daughter's ears checked and her hearing was fine. Now I have an 18 month old son who has a limited vocabulary. He's not actively talking so I'm not concerned (he says mama, dada, ball, hi). Keep reading to your son (never stop reading), and something I was told to do with a speech consultant I had contacted when I truly was worried that something was wrong with my second daughter's speech was to talk to your child in front of a mirror. We put so much pressure on ourselves when our child doesn't act like someone else's child. You are doing the right thing to provide intervention now so that if there truly is a problem, you can address it early on. I hope that I helped.

Just wondering how this turned out for you as we are experiencing the exact situation. I am confused about what to do and would love to hear from a mom who has been through it. Thanks in advance.

Hi I.,

A family friend of ours has a son with the same issue. They took him to the doctor and he was diagnosed with autism. But not a severe case. The child was extremely intelligent and very social, so the parents were not satisfied with this diagnosis. They did some more research and found out that sometimes children who are read to a lot, especially if your child sits in your lap and does not see you reading, will have delays in their verbal communication skills. This child had been read to since he was born and his mother would read him 50+ books a day. I don't know if this is the case with your son, but I just thought I would share. Their son was 2 when he was diagnosed and by the time he was 4 his doctor said his case was not severe and has "cleared up" so-to-speak. He is a "normal" 5-year-old now, with no communicaiton problems whatsoever. In fact, he is advanced for his age and can read like a 2nd grader.


I would first suggest going to his peditrician because it is a little odd for him not to say even little words. It is best to get it checked out early than too late or not at all. And if there is nothing, and he is just shy or something, then its okay you took him to his doctor, no harm done. But, if by chance there is something the doctor might want to further investigate, it might be something they can be treated/cured/fixed because you got to it in time. It sounds like nothing, but better safe.

Try not to worry. He is still quite young. Lots of kids can't talk at this age. My 2nd of 4 kids didn't talk till he was 3yrs old. He's 7 now and is smart and healthy, and fine. Just be patient/

Honestly--all kids develop differently and this includes using language. Though some 18-month olds have a 50+ vocabulary others are less than 10 (and may just be sounds like da for dog or Brrr for car).
Does he know his name? Can he follow simple instructions? Understanding words is really more important at this age than actually being able to physically say the words.
My 22 month old is in that boat--at 18 months he was much like your son (no mama or dada or much of any words)--and now though he makes many sounds for things and understands A LOT--he says very few actual words--but they are starting to come and his understanding of what things are has vastly increased since even 18 months.
But do not fret! I've read a lot about the subject and all kids tend to catch up with each other verbally around 3 years. I was personally a late talker too (no real words until 3)--and had no problems at all in school-no developmental issues whatsoever, and mom my says once I started talking--i never stopped!
One thing that has helped us is teaching our son some baby sign language. "more," "banana," "dog," different animals, clothing items, etc-and it has made things less frustrating for all of us when trying to communicate.

S no you are not doing anything wrong! Keep up the reading and naming objects and he will talk--I promise! And if you are truly worried then ask your pediatrician-they will be able to see if other milestones are being met.

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