18 answers

My Toddler Only Makes Sound Effects!

Hi mamas,

My little boy just turned 18 months old and hardly says anything at all aside from sound effects (he does a lot of make believe and gives his toys sound effects like cars driving, planes flying etc.!) I know he understands everything we say and he's great with following commands (wipe the table, take your shoes off, etc.) but he doesn't even say mama yet! The only things he says regularly are dada and "I want that" which when he says it sounds like "ahwaddat". Since I'm a stay at home mom I'd like to try some things on my own before taking him to speech therapy.

Some notes: His father and I already speak to him quite a lot, read to him everyday, and he doesn't use a pacifier

Any help or suggestions would be great. Thank you.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Honey, you have already done what needs to be done with an 18 month old before you take him to speech therapy. The earlier you start, the better off he will be, it is time now. Call in the morning and make that appointment, you will never, ever get this time back, and it is the only thing you have here that is free, so don't waste another day.


1 mom found this helpful

Sounds like it'll develop and that his hearing is OK. The school district can evaluate him, but I wouldn't do it this early. I wouldn't worry yet. They all talk at different times and he is verbally communicating somewhat and understanding, so I doubt anything is wrong. Hang in there!

More Answers

Sounds like you are doing the right things as parents. Every child has some early and some late developmental areas, and if he's understanding you well, I wouldn't be too concerned yet. Our neighbors intentionally raised their son to be German/English bilingual, and he understood everything, but didn't try to speak until he was around three. Then he started out fluently in both languages, speaking in full, comprehensible paragraphs.

You might be able to encourage some words by playing some of his games with him, and providing words or phrases that some of his "characters" are speaking. He may incorporate some repeated phrases into future play. My grandboy 4.5 adores my contributing to his games and vocabulary in this way. For example, we have little planes we fly around. Before takoff, we run through a "Pre-flight checklist: fuel, check; wings, check; rudder, check; landing gear, check; power, check…. Blue Ace, you are now cleared for takeoff on Runway Two. Beware of turbulence at 2000 feet…." "Turblience" is now one of his favorite pretend words, and it's so cute I don't correct him.

Of course, I started with much simpler words, and built up to this level. My youngest sister, my daughter, and my grandson all started with the word "hot," which is easy, and fun, to say, and easy to comprehend.

You could start with very simple words and phrases that would be relatively easy for your son to shape with his mouth.

3 moms found this helpful

ALL his "sounds" are a "precursor" to talking.
So don't worry.

He is young.
Is his Ped worried? If not don't worry.
Boys, are generally later with talking.

It has nothing to do with them understanding.... even if they understand everything, it doesn't mean something is off with them, just because they don't 'talk' yet.

Einstein... did not even talk until 3 years old. And he was a Genius!

And, the 'articulation' and pronounciation of words, are not perfect yet.. .they are STILL needing to get their mouth motor-skills in line... it is in the p.r.o.c.e.s.s of developing. Talking... takes mouth/tongue/lips/throat coordination.

My son, had speech therapy from 19 months old until almost 3 years old. They gave him an overall developmental assessment and he was even "advanced' in several areas for his age. Just talking, he was "late." Not anything wrong with him clinically, he was just not ready, nor his coordination of his mouth yet. But the speech therapy DOES and DID help. It was free, that is why I did it and I believe early intervention helps. Every state, has an "Early Intervention" program to address speech and other developmental concerns. In my state, they are really great.
Ask you Pediatrician about it. You don't have to be referred, at least in my State. I just signed up myself.

Even with reading, talking a lot to him etc., if the child is not ready nor able to talk... it will take time. But whatever you do, do NOT "force" it or make him feel odd about it or that you are disappointed in him. That will not encourage the child.

all the best,

2 moms found this helpful

Neither of my boys started talking much until they were 2, and then they started sepaking like crazy.

Children master one thing first, either physical or verbal. Boys tend to master the physical milestones, climbing, jumping, clapping before speech, while girls usually are the other way around.

He says "dada" and is making word sounds, so hearing isn't an issue. Just do a lot of one on one talking, word games, read to him books every day, do flash cards, play games like "I spy", encourage him to answer in words. He'll get there.

Here are some articles that gives lots of advice:


Also, ECI is free, so they can do an evaluation and help as well if you want to go that route.


2 moms found this helpful

Boys are visual, girls verbal... Both my boys didn't really speak more than grunt talk and sounds until they were 3 1/2... You know they understand, they would repeat things after you, but when they spoke of their own accord it was grunteese... Then one day the gates opened and now the one in school gets in trouble for talking TOO much...

Some kids start orating when really young... Others think, store up their words, and let them out when they are comfortable that they are master over those words. :-) Doesn't mean they need "therapy"... No amount of coaxing will get my 3 yr old to speak more english than HE wants to...

As long as they follow commands, understand what your saying, interact, and make the sound effects I would not worry about it till after the 4th b-day...

2 moms found this helpful

What has his pediatrician said about this? They usually ask at the 15 month check up.

1 mom found this helpful

My 6 yr old daughter was like that .. She didn't really start talking til between 2 1/2 and 3 yrs old.. Have your son evaluated by a state program Early On.. In my area its called TOTE .. We live in Allen Park, but it was a program through the Brownstown School District. The 1st evaluation we had done was at 19 months and to my surprise they said she didn't qualify for the program because of the few words (and i mean few, lol) words that she did say and her comprehension/understanding.. So they scheduled another evaluation at 24 months. The same lady came out to my house and at that point that lady said that she DID qualify and called it expressive language delay. My daughter also understood everything, just wasn't speaking. She would babble on and on like she was on the phone, but it didn't sound like english, lol (and thats all we speak)... Glad to say that everything was fine and that once she did start talking she spoke a lot more clear/articulate than other kids! Even better than a cousin 3 years olds (still does to this day,lol).. So, I just think some kids are late talkers no matter what you do, they are taking it all in and one day they will speak nice clear sentences. I understand the worry, cause I drove myself nuts with it.. The important thing is that he is understanding what you tell him to do, and the pretend play is great! My 6 yr old daughter has and always had an amazing imagination! My 18 month old daughter is talking a lot, total opposite of my 6 yr old ... total opposite, its amazing!
Good Luck :)
Oh I forgot to mention the name of the program that we were in for a year was TOTE (teaching our tots early) .. The Speech Teacher would come to our house 2 times a week for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs each day to work with the child. Its very convienient... Ok , thats all...good luck

1 mom found this helpful

Honey, you have already done what needs to be done with an 18 month old before you take him to speech therapy. The earlier you start, the better off he will be, it is time now. Call in the morning and make that appointment, you will never, ever get this time back, and it is the only thing you have here that is free, so don't waste another day.


1 mom found this helpful

My daughter is 18 months. She does have a few words (Mama, Dada or Daddy, Bye) and she makes a bunch of animal sounds and has some sign language... but she too is a sound effect girl. She uses signs and sounds for all kinds of things... zipping her jacket, changing her diaper (ewwwww), eating (a sign and a sound).

My boys were both talking at 18 months (really talking) but I don't think I am worried about her yet. We have her 18 month appointment next week and I plan to talk it over with our pediatrican, but I think she's probably fine.

Kids develop at all different paces. My daughter moves like a two year old... she was running by 10 months.

Keep up what your doing, discuss it with your pediatrician and go from there.


1 mom found this helpful

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