40 answers

My 18 Month Old Won't Talk!

I took my son to his 18 month check-up yesterday, and talked to the pediatrician about his speech... lack of speech, rather. At 18 months of age, children are supposed to have at least a ten word vocabulary. But my son hardly has three! She suggested that we see a speech therapist. I would agree to have him go to at least one session to find out if there really is anything to worry about. BUT, my husband completely disagrees and thinks he will talk soon enough. He may be right, but I don't want to ignore it completely! He seems pretty smart, we read to him all the time. He will point out anything you ask him about in books, and he understands commands from us. He understands what lots of things are, he just won't talk! There is no problem with his hearing, either. I don't want to seem like a bad parent by refusing to take him to a speech therapist. Although, we don't have a lot of money, but we do have insurance through our work. My husband is mostly worried about the cost to go to a therapist, does anyone know how much they run?? Ugh, I am just not sure what to do!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone for your responses! You all have helped me greatly, and I am going to check out Parents as Teachers. Again, thank you all so much for your advice!

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dont stress over his speech right now. he is not even 2. My son will be 2 in september and he does not have great speech. we started doing baby signs with him and he has his own words for things. I wouldn't do therapy yet until he gets older. My friends son was the same way. Once he hit 2, it was a couple months after, he started talking up a storm. Like i said, he is not even 2 yet. everything will be ok. if he can communicate with you, thats the most important.

We had the same issues with my first son. He was as smart as could be, could point to anything you asked him too, listened very well, etc. etc. Then one day we realized that was the problem... we spoke for him, always. Instead of saying, "what is this?" in a book so that he could say, "Its a puppy" (or whatever) we would always say, "where is the puppy?" and he's point to it and we'd say "Yay!" and he never needed to talk! So what we did was simply try to change the way that we communicated with him and gently started to sort of change gears and let him have the need to be more vocal. Then.... eventually one day we were like, "Geee... remember when he WOULDN'T talk and now he won't stop??!" haha!!! We did take him to a speech therapist much later b/c he was born with a cleft lip and it was offered to us, we went even though we wer certain he no issues, and we were right. Everything was right on track. So, you may want to consider just changing the way you communicate with him and see if you notice a difference.


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My daughter wasn't talking and I was worried, too. Many people told me not to be so uptight, she would be fine. Turns out, there WAS a problem and had I listened to MY instincts, she could have had help sooner. Much sooner. I'm sorry to sound negative, but I don't want you to have a three year old who isn't talking like I did because everyone told me that I worry too much.

I agree with the other momma's that suggested Parents as Teachers. It's where we started, and we received a pretty comprehensive screening. She was seen by an audiologist, and speech therapist and a resource teacher that specializes in this area. All at no charge (your tax dollars at work!)

Again, I'm sorry if I sound negative and alarmist and I truly hope that everything is okay, but get in touch with PAT and let us know how it works out. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

Why not go to the speech therapist evaluation? It can't hurt to go. I've known many parents that had no idea their children had hearing loss & it was found by going to speech therapy. You'd be surprised!

It's better to check out everything out now just in case a hearing loss or other problem is revealed. If it turns out that everything is fine, then great, but at least you know!


2 moms found this helpful

I agree that he should be able to speak a few more words at 18 months, but would not be too concerned until he's closer to age 2. That said, I also agree that you would not be wrong to seek help now. When it comes to issues like this, I believe it's always to better to be pro-active as opposed to reactive!

The other posters have provided excellent resources for seeking help. I have one more thought: you mentioned that you work full-time. Does your son attend a daycare? Is he with other children his age & older? If so, get those staff members involved in this issue. Ask them to encourage his speech. & this would also apply at home, too.

When he wants a drink, have him say "drink", "please", etc.....while you hand him the drink. I actually go as far as describing each of my actions....asking "where are our cups? Do you know where our cups are?"....& waiting for a response. I also say "water", "juice", "milk" & wait for a repeat....encouraging that parroting of my words. I do this with almost all of my interactions, especially diaper time! It's just an everyday, every moment- done without any thought- kind of thing with the children in my care.

On another note, my youngest son did not speak at home until he was two. His vocab was only a few words, & I took him for his 2 y.o. screening thru Parents as 1st Teachers. The staff was amazed at my concern, because my son spoke nonstop throughout the entire testing process! I was astounded!

2 moms found this helpful

You can get free services for your child!
Contact your health dept. or hospital, they should be able direct you to the resources. My oldest son had: physical, occupational & speech therapies for his first 5 years of life. He graduated from the services before kindergarten.
They can come to your house so your child is more comfortable.
As others have mentioned, Parents as Teachers is a great resource. You cna find them by contacting the school district.
If you need help locating these services, please e-mail me!

God bless!

2 moms found this helpful

You have received lots of great advice, and I guess my answer may sound redundant. There are so many resources out there to help with speech delays if you start before he turns 3. I'm normally a wait and see type mom, but since my daughter was diagnosed with autism at 27 months and I saw what a huge difference early intervention makes, I am an advocate for people to at least become aware of what is available.

Parents as teachers is an excellent free resource. You can usually find them through your local school district. They can refer you to first steps or what ever your local service is for children under 3. Every state is required to have some form of early childhood intervention for children under 3. There are usually sliding scales based on income to make the services affordable.

Albert Einstein may not have talked until he was 4, but there are also those who suspect he may have had Aspergers (a high functioning form of autism). Follow your instincts and at least look into some help evaluating if your son needs more services. Good luck, and I hope he starts talking soon.

1 mom found this helpful

I think you have to trust your "Mommy Instinct." If you feel a couple of months won't hurt, then wait, but if you're strongly feeling things aren't right, then get busy asking for more help.

In Missouri, you can participate in Parents as Teachers where educators from your school district visit your home from birth-kindergarten. They don't provide speech evaluations or therapy but it is a way to get another, professional opinion about your child's development and they offer lots of other wonderful strategies. Call you school district to find out more info.

In MO, First Steps provides evaluations and, if child qualifies, therapy from birth until 3 (which in when the school district starts providing). Your child can be referred to First Steps by a doctor, educator (like Parents as Teachers) or a parent. So you could call First Steps directly and ask for an evaluation. This service used to be free but with state budget cuts the last couple of years they are now provided on a sliding fee scale.

With these two services available, there's really no reason to avoid your concerns because of financial worries. In my opinion, it would be better to gain peace of mind than to later regret that you didn't seek help sooner. Research shows that if there is a problem, the earlier intervention is provided, the better off your child is.

I hope this helps, L.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi! My oldest ended up needing speech therapy as well. As it turned out she had earaches (and therefore water in her ears) at all the wrong times during development. By 2 we suspected that she would need therapy (exceeding all milestones with the large exception of speech) and by 2.5 she was in a class 3 days a week. It was nothing that we did - she just wasn't hearing correctly when she needed to so she needed a little extra help learning how to pronounce words correctly.

We found this out using our area parents-as-teachers. They referred us to the district's speech therapy personel who did some tests for us to find the cause as well as to see if she qualified for preschool/therapy - as it turns out she qualified (depends solely on her speech development). So she had 2 full years of therapy totally paid for by the district!

By 18 monthes some kids are really just taking it slow. There's no reason to think that you need to rush out for help right now - it sounds like your son is really just on the mellow side. ;) Definitely check out your district's website though to see if they participate in parents-as-teachers and see if you can get them coming to your home. They'll most likely have all the resources that you'll need, and what they don't have they can point you in the right direction. ;)

1 mom found this helpful

Hi C.,

You seem a very smart and hard working woman and mom!
In my opinion, kids do different things at different times and many are out of the regular or common range, and that does not mean they have a problem. When my kid was 20 mo., I was suggested that he saw a speech therapist, and I decided to wait a little bit more, and interact more with him and talk with him more frequently. we keep playing games, sing songs and participate in playgroups (weekdays or weekends)so he could have the opportunity to interact with other kids and increase his vocabulary. after a while, he could talk a lot, and he became a little parrot (later than other kids, but he did it) Now days, he is bilingual and learning a third foreign language. He love it,a and he has a very rich vocabulary.
So, what I am saying is that may be you want to try do more activities that involve speaking, phonics, sounds, and so forth and wait a little bit more to see what happens. It is nothing wrong to check with a speech therapist, though. I hope this helps you, that was my experience.
Good luck!


1 mom found this helpful

I haven't read other responses, but for one thing listen to what your mommy instinct is telling you. I believe 100% that a loving and in tune mom knows if something isn't right.
As for my experience. My 16 year old son only said what he had to until he was about 3, and still didn't talk much...still doesn't. Not because he couldn't/can't but becasue he didn't/doesn't want to. My son was content just being quiet and taking in everything around him. He went from saying a single word to full 5 or 6 word sentences over night. He has always been the kid that didn't think everybody needed to know everything he knows.
If he's been evaluated and things seem fine otherwise, and your mommy radar isn't going off, just let him be. He'll be a teenager soon enough and you'll wish he NEVER learned to talk...lol :) Good luck and happy parenting.

1 mom found this helpful

No idea how much they cost but it should be covered under insurance. I just wanted to tell you that my little girl who happens to be only a day older than your son barely talks. Haven't talked to the doctor about it yet. She babbles all the time you just can't make out any words other than momma or sometimes daddy. she does try to say a few other things but they just aren't very intelligble. But like your son she knows commands especially no give me that! lol but she was tongue tied at birth thus why she had to be bottle fed. I honestly feel that they will talk when they are ready. a good friend of mine her son barely talked at age 2 but by the time he was 3 he sounded like he was 5. He just all of a sudden decided to talk since his two older sister (twins) quit telling mom what he wanted. so no your not a bad parent for not taking him to see a speech therapist. I refuse to take rayne to any kind of therapist unless it is absolutely needed. Plus she out does many other 18 month olds physically especially the whole climbing things. But unless there is a physical issue such as ear problems it could just be plain stubbornness too.

1 mom found this helpful

Get him evaluated by First Steps. You pay on a sliding scale, and it is very affordable. My son gets First Steps Speech once a week, and he does private therapy once a week as well. The private therapy is $40 for 30 minutes and $60 for 45 minutes. I wouldn't worry just yet. Your son is still young. I'd wait a few more months and see how he is doing. By all means, if your motherly intuition is telling you something is wrong you should do something now. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

You need to get in touch with Parents as teachers, they will do an evaluation and get you in contact with First Steps, First Steps will help you get speech therapy or any other therapy your son might need ( which from your post sounds like he is right on target other than the speech ) Also it is all income based, so it might even not cost anything for you and they come to your home which is conveniant. There is no harm in early intervention, it can only help...you didn't explain why your husband was against it, but I would talk to him and try to get him to at least let his son go through the therapy. It is not unpleasent, at this age it is all play based. Yes, the words might come all on their own, and boys are notorious late talkers, but you never know...my Alex turned 2 June 5th and he has speech therapy and we only have a handful of words he uses, and most of them are not on a consistant basis...the ability for a child to communicate his or her needs is so important, we have started using some signs even though at the beginning it made me apprehensive, I can not tell you how great it is that he is able to express more of his needs, it has really improved our relationship...less tantrums for one thing! I hope you go through with the speech therapy, I see it as such a good thing that more children are getting earlier intervention.

1 mom found this helpful

Good Morning C.! I am the mother of four boys, one of which received speech therapy services. Seek help as soon as possible. Screenings and treatment (if needed) are free of charge (federal law). Contact your local school district for information.
My son knew about 10 words when he was 16 months old and then suddenly quit speaking. He received speech therapy until he was 5 1/2 and now you would never know he ever had issues with speech. The earlier the specialists intervene, the better.
Of course, there may be nothing wrong with your son. I babysat for a little boy in college who said barely a few words, but when he was 2 1/2 woke up one day and spoke in complete sentences! His parents did seek help, but were told there was nothing wrong so they just kept talking to him, reading to him, etc. until he chose to speak.
Good luck! Get him checked out for your own peace of mind!
Have a great day!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi! You could call your insurance company (there should be a toll free # on your card) and ask them how much it would cost. Also, if your pediatrician referred you to someone, you could check with them to see how much it would be. Also, does your school district have a Parents as Teachers program? They come to your home and meet with you and your son and can offer things you can do to help (no charge for this). They may also recommend programs which may be low or no cost. You would need to contact your public school district (probably the elementary school) to set up the first meeting.

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't worry too much at this point, but would look into infant-toddler services and/or parents as teachers just to get some input and maybe some ideas to encourage him to say more. Boys typically take a little longer to talk and by two should have a much larger vocabulary. I wouldn't pay anyone to evaluate at this point. The local school district should offer this for free. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe parents as teachers would be a good start. They come to the home for free. It is a teacher through your school district. They may be able to hook you up with a speech therapist through the school but I am not sure of that.

My 2 nephews did not speak for a long time. The oldest was about 4. He is about 8 now and still is difficult to understand at times. The youngest is 6 and speaks fine now but also did not talk until almost 4. My brother and sister in law did not get them any help so school was the 1st time. I think the additional help before would have made a huge difference.

Your son could just be a late talker but I think it is better safe than sorry. Parents as teachers would be a good start.

Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful

First of all not all 18 month old children are alike. Some talk ealier and some talk later. If there are no medical reasons I would not worry. I have four children. One of my sons talked before he could walk and my youngest daughter did not talk until she went to preschool and now you cannot shut her up. Enjoy the silence because when he does starts talking watch out. My suggestions is to talk to him like you talk to any adult. No baby talk and ask him to uses his words and not point things out. That should help him start talking more. I'm with your husband save the money.

A little about me:

I am a working mother of five: 2 boys(17,14), two girls(10,9) and a 1yd Shorky. Married 20 years to my best friend.

1 mom found this helpful

The same thing happened to my nephew. My mother started watching him while my sister went back to work, so I started to take my two boys over to play with him more often. The more he was around my boys, the more we noticed that his speech was improving. Sometimes, they just need to be around other children. I think that helps them learn to communicate with words. Try starting a play-group on your days off.

1 mom found this helpful

C., my name is S. and I am the mother of one beautiful 2 1/2 year old and another little girl on the way. I had the exact same thing with my child. Hannah is a very bright child and while other children maybe excelling in speech she was excelling in puzzles, or play. We too had her hearing checked and everything, as you can imagine there were no problems, after I asked her doctor she said some children it just takes a little longer for speech as it takes longer for other children with a puzzle or something else. We just tried to look at things and sound them out with her and speak very clearly, she is just now beginning to take off and speak quite a bit more but when she did she was getting a new word every week! It was amazing! Although our Parents as Teachers lady keeps telling me that Hannah is behind some of the other children my doctor keeps reassuring me that she is perfect and at age 3 if she wouldn't keep excelling in speech then we might want to think about something, but feels there is nothing to worry about. C. I feel very strongly that there is probably nothing wrong with our children's ability to speak but just that they choose to do it a little later:) Good Luck with everything I hope this helps:)

1 mom found this helpful

Albert Einstein didn't talk until he was four.

You need to get in touch with your local public elementary school. They may be able to provide you with a speech therapist at no cost.

At any rate, the sooner you resolve any speech issues he may have, the better. Speech problems are almost always linked to difficulty with reading later on. It is definitely worth getting a second opinion from a speech professional. Good luck!

My daughter's godmother experienced the same issue with both of her boys (who do tend to talk later). However, each state has a federally mandated (and paid for program) that provides early intervention services (speech therapy, physical therapy, etc) free of charge, in your home. In Georgia, it's called "babies can't wait", name varies state-to-state. However, contact your local social services office to get the local evaluator (usually a nurse)...who will then enroll your child in the program and will have a full speech evaluation and begin work within a month or two (that's been my experience working in social services in Georgia). Again, there is NO charge for this service--and, they have excellent staff...there are federal mandates on the credentials of persons providing services.
Good luck...but, do get a speech therapist soon...I swear, my daughter's godmother went thru this 4 years ago and now can't get her 5 1/2 year old to quit talking her ear off!

C. -

I work in HR field. What I would do is call your insurance provider, also you may call the speech thearpist they set you up and ask about avg. cost...then you can get an idea.

On a side note, I would take him....dr. offices are very willing to work out payment plans, et. If it is nothing, it may give you piece of mind.... Hang in there.

Please see the speech therapist.In MO we have Parents as Teachers thru your local school district. Call them and ask for FREE testing.
Good luck and you are a great Mom.

Hello, I know you have already received a lot of responses and I whole-heartedly agree with contacting Parents as Teachers for a speech screening. If there are any true concerns about speech developement, they will lead you in the right direction. My son is 19 months old. He's had a lot of medical stuff going on and was accepted into First Steps when he was 8 months old and started working with a Speech therapist shortly after he turned one (mostly because the services were available to us and he has some feeding/swallow issues that Speech therapists often specialize in). Anyway, he has yet to say a first word, and rarely babbles. I have frequently heard that boys are just late talkers as they are too busy running, climbing, etc. That very well may the case with most boys. I don't think it would hurt to have him evaluated. You may be told that he's fine, as is what happened to a few of my friends (who also had late talking sons), but it will put your mind at ease. Best of luck!!


If you live in the Johnson County area of Kansas they have a service called Infant Toddler Service. ###-###-####
They are located off of Metcalf. However, they will come to your house weekly and work with child. They are free. If you are still having problems when your child is 3. You can involve your school and have Parents as Teachers come to your house, they too are free. GOOD LUCK

I wouldn't worry about it personally. It doesn't seem as though you have had a gut feeling that something is wrong. Some children just speak later than others. It wouldn't hurt to have an evaluation, but there are some children that don't utter a word until they are 3, then speak in sentences!

Have you thought about introducing sign language to him to give him an avenue of communication until his verbal skills catch up? Micah has been signing since he was slightly older than one, and it has been a godsend. In the beginning, signing with some words or sounds made up the majority of his vocabulary, but as he has gotten older, words and sounds have taken over -- though he still uses sign to emphasize certain words, especially if the person he is talking to isn't understanding what he is trying to communicate. At around 2 years, I introduced "Signing Times" and his signing vocabulary exploded! (There is a "Baby Signing Times" too that is geared at less than 2 year olds) Now, he knows all his colors, lots of animals, food, it helped with potty training, and has reduced tantrums because he could tell me what he wanted/needed.

my son only said a few words before age 2 and he was very smart. By age 2 1/2 he could say all the letters and write half of them, at age 3 he was putting together 100 piece puzzles pretty quickly and by age 4 he was reading 3rd grade level. I would wait until he is at least 2 before going to a therapist. You might be surprised in how much he starts talking within the next 6 months. Try pointing to things and asking him what they are. Pictures of Mom and Dad would be a good start. Who is that?

dont stress over his speech right now. he is not even 2. My son will be 2 in september and he does not have great speech. we started doing baby signs with him and he has his own words for things. I wouldn't do therapy yet until he gets older. My friends son was the same way. Once he hit 2, it was a couple months after, he started talking up a storm. Like i said, he is not even 2 yet. everything will be ok. if he can communicate with you, thats the most important.

Hi C.,
My grandson was exactly the same at your son's age. We knew he was smart, he understood things but just wouldn't talk. We could see his frustration and couldn't help him.
My daughter took him to a speech therapist, she saw him 3 times a week for the first couple of months, then 2x a week and finally 1x a week and it was like a miracle.
He is now 3 1/2 and was just screened for pre school. He scored at a 6 yr old level in the vocabulary section.
Take him to a speech therapist, it can't hurt and will only help if thats what he needs.
Good luck,

my son will be 4 in October and is just now this year talking. He was every bit a non shy 2 year old but was content not to say anything other than momma and dadda. He now has a huge vocab and will talk all the time. He does slur his words some but every day gets better and better. My advise would be to let him talk on his own time, but continue trying to get him to say what he wants. Good luck.

All children develop differently. Give him some time. He knows more than you think he does. When he starts talking, you will wish he would hush! te he he! But seriously, give him a few more months and see how things go. He still so very young and there is no sense in paying for expensive therapy when he is just probably a late bloomer. He is healthy otherwise, so don't stress over the unknown.

I have the same problem as you! My son is 20 months and he refuses to talk.I thought it was because me and my husband speak both english and spansh and maybe he just didnt know which to speak.
He understands both languages. I know this because when we tell him to do or not to do something he does/doesnt do it.
He does say mama and papa and no,but when I tell him to say something like car,he shakes his head no and smiles.
So I understand where your comming from,even thogh each child is different,ours sound similar.
Im going to hold off on the doctor,I feel like you said your husband does,they will talk soon enough. If mine dont start talking alot more by his 2nd birthday(12/18/07)I will definatly take him to see the doctor.
Dont stress to much,each kid is different at their pace of progress;I have 2 other children also.My daughter walked at 10months as my older son didnt till he was a year & 1/2.
I understand your concern,but I really dont think anyone will say your a bad parent for not taking your baby to a
speech therapist.

We were in the same boat a few years ago. My son said "mama and dada". Our pediatrician thought he should be saying 18 words at 18 months. She suggested a hearing test, but we didn't think hearing was an issue. He could follow directions at home (go get your shoes, get a book, etc) and responded to his name. We went for the hearing test anyway and were very surprised to learn he had complete fluid blockage in one ear and 50% in the other! The ENT (ear, nose, throat Dr) put tubes in and we started speech. He just turned 4 and DOESN'T STOP TALKING! We actually get compliments on his speech/vocabulary and laugh because of how things started! Good Luck!

We had the same issues with my first son. He was as smart as could be, could point to anything you asked him too, listened very well, etc. etc. Then one day we realized that was the problem... we spoke for him, always. Instead of saying, "what is this?" in a book so that he could say, "Its a puppy" (or whatever) we would always say, "where is the puppy?" and he's point to it and we'd say "Yay!" and he never needed to talk! So what we did was simply try to change the way that we communicated with him and gently started to sort of change gears and let him have the need to be more vocal. Then.... eventually one day we were like, "Geee... remember when he WOULDN'T talk and now he won't stop??!" haha!!! We did take him to a speech therapist much later b/c he was born with a cleft lip and it was offered to us, we went even though we wer certain he no issues, and we were right. Everything was right on track. So, you may want to consider just changing the way you communicate with him and see if you notice a difference.

C., I would be tempted to wait for a few months, he is at the age where is speech is liable to absolutely EXPLODE and you will find yourself thinking very very fondly of these days when he didn't babble constantly!!! A
As to the cost of a speech therapist, make a few calls, as for price quotes, see if they accept your insurance and then call your insurance and ask what they cover and what your co-pay or percentage of responsibility would be!!
R. Ann

Early interventions will help him and your family out greatly.I don't have a child with any special need's but at 18 months his vocabularly of only 3 word's & lack of speech I would be concerned as well

Good Morning C., Our youngest son was past 2 when he finally started talking. He had a older brother that talked for him so he didn't have to. He could but wouldn't. I had to finally tell his brother to stop talking for him and forced him to speak for himself. If he wanted a drink he had to ask for it etc.. or he didn't get it.
Now his son did the same thing. Asher is 5 now and in kindergarten, doing well. His speech is fine he just won't speak up unless he is tattling on his brother or sister...lol then it's a tad bit whinnnnnny :)

Zane our youngest gr son will be 2 in Oct. he doesn't talk clearly either, can say shoooes, Mama, Daddy, Papa, Nana, dog, Babaa < brother, wuv yuu to, dink for drink, cacker for cracker. Corbin was speaking in sentences at 18 months. I haven't had the same one on one time with Zane that I had with Corbin, tomorrow he starts pre-k half days. So hoping I can help Zane along then. He won't sit on your lap to read, or play. He wants down and gone. So it's a whole different ballgame with Zane.

Only way to check on cost is to call a few and ask them what their fee's are. Some will give free consults before setting up appointments. Check to see what your insurance will cover and what is your responsiblity. Head start and maybe other childrens org. will help out to get you started.

God Bless C., just keep working with him when you can. He sounds like he is a smart intelligent little guy.
K. Nana of 5

C., Where do you live? You could contact Johnson County Infant Toddler Services and they could evaluate your son, they might have to have a request from your doctor. Also, you could contact your school district. I know that the Olathe School District does screening for pre-school and smaller children once a month, I'm sure other school districts do this as well. There are definately places to get him evaluated without it costing you a bundle!!

Good Luck, M.

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