17 answers

Is My 17 Month Old Not Saying Enough Words???

Hi. I am a first time mom, my little girl just turned 17 months. She has been saying "momma" & "dadda" for a while. She has also said "shoe" once, she will say the cats name "Mont-Mont" once in a while and the other night when she picked up her cel phone she said "hello". She knows what things are if you ask her where the fan is, her eyes, nose, tummy, etc., does well that way and also will point to things and say "whats dat" but my husband and I dont know if she is not speaking enough words at this point. Myabe we are just being paranoid?! I know all children are different and do things in their own time but when should you start to be concerned they arent saying enough? She is a little chatter box, has been for months but not actual words. My friend has a 24 month old and her daughter speaks a lot of words and short sentences. I know there is a big difference between 17 month and 24 months. Let me know what you think. Also, what are some "first" words children say so that my huaband and I can maybe work with her? Thanks!
K

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Hi K.,

I too had the same worry about my son who is now 3. At 18 months of age he barely said anything, but he knew what I was saying and understood everything. I even asked the doctor in my concern if he was on track. She told me not to worry b/c he was saying enough words, could hear me, and understand me. By the time he was 2, he was speaking two word sentences. They pick up speech very quickly. It seems like almost overnight. So just be patient and keep saying the words for every item. She will pick it up.

She sounds like a normal 17 month old. My oldest was very similar. Looking back she didn't speak very much because she didn't have too...oldest children have no competition for their parents attention and often have their needs met before they have to voice a "demand". My subsequent children all spoke earlier because they had to gain my attention to get what they needed. The exception was my 1st born son who is also a twin. The situation there...his twin sister spoke for him!

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Don't worry... and I know you have heard that already. My 16 month old is not even saying mama or dada yet, so your child is ahead of mine, LOL! We're not worried, he babbles all the time, recognizes objects and so forth. As I said with my first child about a lot of things, they won't graduate high school in ( fill the blank, mine was diapers) and our children will graduate high school communicating.

Speak with your daughter's pediatrician if you are concerned. You can also have your daughter evaluated through early interventin services, which are free until the age of three. If her dc is concerned, you will be given the appropriate number to call to get your daughter evaluated. Her doc may also suggest that your daughter be seen by an ear, nose and throat doc to evaluate hearing.

as long as she is chattering, she is probably fine; just make sure you listen to her talk, if you can figure out what she is talking about (like her shoes), you can respond about the same topic; with the attention you are giving her, i'll bet she will be talking your ear off in no time

She sounds like a normal 17 month old. My oldest was very similar. Looking back she didn't speak very much because she didn't have too...oldest children have no competition for their parents attention and often have their needs met before they have to voice a "demand". My subsequent children all spoke earlier because they had to gain my attention to get what they needed. The exception was my 1st born son who is also a twin. The situation there...his twin sister spoke for him!

You are right - they are all different...as long as she is communicating in some way and interactive with you, no need to worry at 17 months. My daughter hardly spoke at all until 2. We were so glad that we had started baby signs with her at around 9 months - we could have whole conversations by the time she was 18 months. She had learned that she could communicate with us using gestures so she'd make up new signs herself in order to explain a new word to us. That was really neat. My grandmothers always said that she would never learn to talk until we stopped using those silly signs. Not too long after 2, she started talking in sentences and her vocabulary was quite large. I think it was just part of her personality. She is very shy to this day and is also a perfectionist - if she isn't confident that she can do it, she won't let anyone see her do it until she has mastered a skill. She was the same with walking...She pulled up to standing at 6 months on the nose - didn't walk until 11 months. She could stand up without holding on to things and play in the middle of the room. But she wouldn't take a step. When she started, she didn't really fall...

We started signs with my son too. He was the opposite - very verbal from the start. He'd learn the word before the sign. He did some of the signs for emphasis, but really didn't need them at all.

The signs really are wonderful if you have a child that isn't very verbal as you can really understand them at an earlier age and communicate quite well surprisingly.

Both of my children had limited vocabularies until their second birthdays. Then it seemed like overnight they added several new words, spoke in short sentences, and started verbally communicating their needs. I had spoken to the pediatrician when my oldest was around 18 months. She said to watch for other language skills - the addition of ANY word, body movements, facial expressions, intonation in their babbling, following simple directions, responding to his name, etc. As long as I could see him using those forms of communication then there was likely nothing to worry about. She was right. She explained that some kids put so much energy into playing, moving and exploring that they don't talk as early.

Both of my children's first words were variations of 'mama' and 'dada'. 'Ball', 'yea', 'wow' were early words followed by 'woof-woof' (for dog), 'ashes' and 'down'(from Ring Around the Rosie), 'again' and 'tickle'. We used to tickle them and say "tickle, tickle, tickle, tickle, tickle". They picked up on that and repeated it as 'ducka, ducka, ducka, ducka, ducka'.

Try not to worry. My bet is that you'll see a big change after her second birthday.

I read your question with great interest because as the mother of a now three year old, I too wondered if she was speaking enough at 18 months. She is being evaluated for speech delay this week as she knows WHAT she wants to say, but just cant pronounce them correctly. She is my second, and I barely have a problem knowing what she wants, but if I really listen to her, I cant understand her clearly, and that is what the doctors want to see. Her PCP told me to work with her and try and get her to say things correctly, rather than just give her what I know she wants. I would talk with your doctor now and let him/her know your concerns and things you should look out for. Good luck!

Every child is different. My son will be 2 in 2 weeks and still says only a handful of words, but understands everything, follows directions perfectly, and can "tell" you exactally what he wants through a modified sign language. What the last person posted, that they can get their point across, they will not talk until later is really true. It just is not quite working for us pretending not to know what he wants! They will all speak though, not to worry. I was told by my doctor that as long as they clearly understand, there is nothing to worry about.

Hi K.,

I too had the same worry about my son who is now 3. At 18 months of age he barely said anything, but he knew what I was saying and understood everything. I even asked the doctor in my concern if he was on track. She told me not to worry b/c he was saying enough words, could hear me, and understand me. By the time he was 2, he was speaking two word sentences. They pick up speech very quickly. It seems like almost overnight. So just be patient and keep saying the words for every item. She will pick it up.

I know exactly how you feel. At 18 months my daughter knew what anything was and would point to them but said very few words. And because we responded to her pointing, she really had no need to speak. We started asking what when she would point to things instead of just getting it. After about 1 month of this she started saying more. She is a few weeks from her 2nd birthday now and she talks in sentences. She says about 5-10 new words a day (and not all good one LOL!!) Just be patient because all of the sudden any day now she will just start blurting out everything she has been hearing of the past few months. Good Luck!!

I wouldn't be surprised if your toddler is already saying a lot of words you don't recognize yet. Some of the best ways to help her develop her language skills are to point at objects and name them for her and read books with her focusing not so much on the words in the books but on telling her about the pictures in the books (eg this is a cow, a cow says moo). She can understand so much more than she can say. Here is a good article to read: http://www.babycenter.com/0_your-17-month-olds-language-a.... At her 18-month check-up be sure to express your concerns, if you still have them, to the pediatrician.

Hi K.,
I highly recommend checking out the baby center website. If I can't get a good answer here from moms, I always check what this website says!

http://www.babycenter.com/toddler;jsessionid=56DE99539070...

If you scroll down a bit, you will see the title: Development and behavior. you can check out all kinds of "timelines" in your baby's development and also get great ideas for language games, etc.

Good Luck! :)
L.

If you can learn and teach her sign language she'll be much better off. You can't teach a person to speak. It's instinctual. Just act normal and she'll be normal.

I've seen books on learnig/teaching signs to toddlers so as to enable them to communicate effectively. You just use the signs while you say and do things with her and she learns best that way. Don't make up your own signs. Learnignto communicate will be very saticfying for her and she'll be able to use them in the outside world too if you use American Sign Language. It's fun and releiving for everyone.
My youngest brother didn't speak until he was three so it was different and a bit alarming.

If you can list 10-18 words that she can say, she is fine!

I took my son for his 18 month check up. The pediatrition asked me to name 10 words he can say. We came up with 5.
A delay was detemined and he started receiving speech and Occupational theraphy twice a week thru the state for free!! He was finally diagnosed with Autism at 4 1/2 years old. He is now 9 years old talking, potty training, reading,doing math problems, riding a bike, playing video games and learning how to play the guitar!!

EARLY INTERVENTION IS THE KEY!!! IF YOU CAN NOT LIST AT LEAST 10 WORDS, TAKE HER TO A DEVELOPMENTAL PEDIATRITION FOR A FULL EVALUATION. DO NOT TAKE NO FOR A ANSWER! YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD!

Hi K.,
Does your daughter take a binky? If so, that will definitely slow down how much she talks, however, if she doesn't take a binky, she is still in good shape. I too have a 17 month old and he is uttering the same words as your daughter and they are both fine! I come from a HUGE family and believe you me...every child is different. When she's ready to "talk" she'll start and never stop! Hee! Hee! If she can identify objects and is chattering away, even if it is jibberish, she's still on a good path. Things that might speed things along though; reading! Read her a good book that's not too much for her to comprehend, a book that's simple, maybe an ABC book. My son loves books with the "flaps". Repetition is key! Don't worry yourself, I'm sure you're doing everything right! Just talk to her and let her jibber-jab back, eventually the jibberish will turn into words! A couple of my nieces and nephews were slow to start speaking, but now you can't hush them up:) But remember, a mother's intuition is usually right and if you feel in your heart something might be wrong, consult with your physician.
Take care,
H.

Even though shes not saying the words, she understands much more than you can believe. You can introduce a few signs, probably the most common and useful like yes, no, drink, eat, more, change (diaper). You can get a book from the library or just make up your own. It will break down the communication barrier and will instill more confidence and security. Also just bc she can't say the word s right now you can increase her vocabulary by reading her simple picture books and have her point at the picture you ask her to ex. point at the dog, point at the car etc..Enhance the skills she dose have and everything else will come together in its own time.
I recently heard Dr Karp from "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" say that most 18 mo olds have a vocabulary of 20-30 words, some up to 200-300 yet some don't speak until they are 3yrs old.

I have two boys (5 & 10) My 1st spoke clearly and beautifully at a very early age, so when my 2nd one came along and was only saying "dat" (that)when he wanted something by his 18th month, I was very worried. I called montgomery County early intervention(it is free!!!!) and they sent someone out to check him out! It turns out the my older son just got him whatever he need and the little one didn't need to talk so he didn't-now I can't keep him quiet! It sounds like she will be fine and chatty very soon but to put your mind at ease-give early intervention a call-they were very helpful and nice! Good luck and remember this day the 1st time she talks back to you!
T.

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