18 answers

When Do Kids Start Talking?

I have a 2 1/2 year old that isn't talking much yet, he says a few things like "mama", "dad", "puppy", "cup" and simple things like that but he won't say much else. So my question is when do most kids start actually talking...my son is a very smart kid and he can get across what he wants without talking so I'm not really concerned that he's not going to talk but it would be so nice for him to actually talk and tell me what he wants or what is wrong.

What can I do next?

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I have a coworker who is having the same problem with her son. He gets across what he wants without saying a word as well. I am willing to bet, as with what others have said, why talk when he doesn't have to. Pretend you don't know what he wants for a little while, see how it goes.

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Hi J.,

I am a speech pathologist and I work in the schools with children in young fives, kindergarten and 1st grade. Most of the kids that come to me have parents who say, "My child really didn't start talking until they were three, but my pediatrician said that they would grow out of it." Please don't accept that advice. Early intervention is key and at 2 1/2, your child should be speaking in sentences. (Not grammatically correct sentences, but putting 3 or more words together.)If you contact your local school district, they can help set you up with an evaluation free of cost. Even if your child doesn't qualify for speech services, they can give you a ton of ideas to help get that expressive language flowing. Contact me personally if you need anything else.


1 mom found this helpful

I had the same problem with my son. We had taking him to a speech therapist and had him evaluated. It maybe something to look into. We went back six months later for a follow up too. They gave me lots of things to do with him to help him get in the mood for talking. Now I cant get him to stop and its great.

According to a speech therapist friend, a kid should have a few words around 12 months and 50 words by 18 months. By 2 they should be putting words together & speaking in short sentences. If you don't think there is anything physically wrong, then make him talk. Don't give him what he wants until he asks for it, and require longer and longer responses every time. Tell him often to "use your words". I would have him checked out. I'm surprised your pediatrician hasn't said anything about it yet. When my son was 18 months and not talking I asked our pediatrician about it. She said "Don't worry about it until he's 3." I took him to Children's Hospital for a hearing test, which was fine. They sent me to a speech therapist for evaluation and they recommended therapy at Curative. That was at 18 months. At age 2 he was diagnosed autistic and had I listened to that doctor, he would be SO MUCH further behind than he is now. We never did see her again. I'm not trying to scare you, but I wouldn't just sit and do nothing either.

Every child starts when they are ready! My first, Ella, didn't start saying more than a few words until she was 2yrs but my second, Ava, is saying sentences and singing songs at 20mo! Although, I can't believe Ava can get a word in edgewise now that Ella is 3yr (she talks non-stop)! :) But if you are worried (mother's instinct is the best) first I would have his hearing checked and then have a visit with a speech therapist. I know if you go through the school system it is free to have an evaluation, and if he does have a problem they will follow him throughout the school years. Good luck and be patient with him!

I have 3 kids with speech delays. The first step for a child under 3 is to have him evaluated by Birth to 3 Early Intervention in your county. If he qualifies, they will offer speech therapy for him and they come to your house. I am getting my 22 month old son evaluated because he is only saying 5 words and he will most likely qualify. It sounds like your son would qualify also. After age 3, 2 of my kids have gone to an early childhood program only for kids with speech delays(called phonology) email me if you have any other questions

Many times boys talk later than girls. I know my DD was saying full sentences at 16 months, and my DS didn't talk until 2 years old!

Like the others said, keep talking to him. I bet he is siting back taking it ALL in, and will one day "spit" it all out :)

I have a coworker who is having the same problem with her son. He gets across what he wants without saying a word as well. I am willing to bet, as with what others have said, why talk when he doesn't have to. Pretend you don't know what he wants for a little while, see how it goes.

My son was having the same problem, I finally called Omaha Public Schools and did get him evaluated. A speech therapist and a teacher came to the house and tested him. He was evaluated in four categories (right now I dont remember the details of each) but two categories he passed with 32 months (basically his age) and the other two he evaluated at 12 months. So needless to say, we were accepted into the OPS therapy. I have a speech therapist (through OPS, free of charge) come to the house once a week and work with him and also his Dad and I. She is giving us tons of ideas. They cant diagnose "why" he doesnt talk much, just some kids develop differently. He is great at listening and following directions and has no problem there, he just doesnt speak well, or his words arent clear. Our daughter who now is 5 was completely opposite, she had several words by the age of one and had sentences by the age of two. I totally recommend calling your school district and see what they recommend. Its possible that he doesnt need therapy, but its so frustrating for them to try and talk and just cant, so its better to be pro-active and keep the child's frustrations at a minimum. If you have questions or need more details please email me. There's alot of information to pass on if your interested. Good Luck!!!

J., as long as he is talking it will come just keep working with him. We do 1/2 an hour each dar of words and #'s where we sit down no interuptions, we have flash cards it has really helped. But I have a friend that had a son that didn't put 2 words together till he was 4-5 and he sat down one day and started reading the newspaper out loud he is now a Nucular Engenieer go figure so it all just takes time and he is just taking it all in. I know our son would walk around and grunt at what he wanted so we stoped giving it to him unless he tried to say it, there was a lot of getting mad when we did this but now he can point a tell us in words what he wants. Good Luck!

I agree with most moms on here. First off i have a 18 month old and he knows the basics like mama dad papa... etc. Could i say he knows 50 words hmmm no. I do agree with most kids do things on their own time. Not one child is alike i wouldn't even say that twins are alike. My son didn't even start walking until he was 14 months old. Didn't want nothing to do with it. My daughters on the other hand did walk before they were a year old. Also I have a neice that was delayed in speech. Everyone seemed to be mama in her time lol Anyways she wasn't just delayed in speech she was also delayed in walking talking potty training.... Come to find out she had autism. She went through early on program and went to school with alot of deaf childern. She not only did speech therpy but learned sign language tooo. Even though she went through the program she still had to be encourage to use her language. Like someone else said make them talk. Make them ask u instead of no verbal asking. I would also ask myself what is my childs personality. If your child is shy like my oldest was i can see why they wouldn't be talking. Now my second daughter OMG i could not make her be quiet when she was 2. She would walk into a room and everyone would know her name before she left. (it wasn't screaming either) Anyways look into the personality by sayin okiee will my child go to another person that didn't know like if u were to drop them off at a new babysitters house ??? Or how does they involve themselfs with other childern. Just a few.... Also I suggest look at who his influences are. Maybe get play dates goin or something like that. Headstart is a good place for childern to interact with others. Good Luck and don't worry they all learn in their own time.

J., in 2 more years you will post How do I Stop my daughter from talking!!!

It is probably just fine but I would have his hearing checked. Especially if he has had a few ear infections.

If that is ok, try not to wish him to talk more because the day will come when you wish he had a "mute" button.

He will talk, guaranteed!!!

M. B

I went through the same thing with my daughter who is now almost 3. I had concerns at age 2 and had her evaluated by Early On. They recommended a hearing test which was fine and she began speech therapy last May. She didn't really start talking until Aug. which was age 29 months. Now she speaks very well, but struggles with articulation. I would recommend having an evaluation. It is a free program run through the schools and my philosophy was it can't hurt. I just spoke with my daughter's ST and since she is turning 3 she is aging out of Early On, but moving into the next program that is school based so she will begin going to the school for therapy now. Early On's contact info is 1-800-Early-On or www.1800earlyon.org. Just request an evaluation and they will set you up and it is FREE!!! Good Luck K.

My kids have always been ones that have talked very well beginning about 18 months. But I have also been one that has talked to them alot, but not in "baby talk". Since your son is saying some words, a suggestion is when you ask him a question pose it in a way that he can't answer in a yes or no. Then start asking him to use his words. I have a daughter who is 4 who really likes to point and grunt (mimicing her younger siblings at times) and I have to remind her to use her words. Good luck, but don't be discouraged, each child has their own developmental schedule and as long as you feel that they are on track there isn't anything to worry about.

Every child is different for when they start talking. If you want your children to speak earlier then you bombard them with language from the moment they are placed in your arms, talk to them constantly about everything about nothing at all- the more they hear it the more they want to try it. I also did baby sign and they can start communicating with you even sooner.

My friend has a little boy whose language skills were about the level you are describing and he was almost three- she found out that he had serious ear infections and tonsil problems that were preventing him from hearing which was preventing him from talking. If you are concerned about it then I would have his doctor take a serious look at his ears and throat.

Your pediatrician will also have development expectation on language, whether or not your child should be putting words together for sentances and small phrases...

At 2 1/2 I would expect him to speak a little more but it may be that he prefers nonverbal communication- if he knows mom and dad will respond to his nonverbal communication he may just stick with what works- you could start having him say things before you give them to him- have him parrot you- if you know he wants milk have him repeat after you milk please before you hand it to him... Good luck

I just have to share this little story with you. My Mom had 4 of us. My youngest sister was 3 and not talking. Our doctor told mom to stop giving her anything without her saying it.. (us kids couldn't give her anything either) she started talking in full sentenses!! She COULD talk but didn't have to.. We all laugh at this today.(we are all in our 40's) good luck.


I think one thing that you said was key, "He can get across what he wants without talking" If he doesn't have to talk why should he? My girlfriend had the same problem with her son. He grunted and pointed to everything at two and her ped told her that that wasn't normal and he needed to be evaluated. She wouldn't accept it and made him say what he wanted before she would give it to him no matter what it was. It was a long road but it worked for her and I just talked to him yesterday on the phone about Christmas gifts and he was talking in complete sentences at three. I agree with Courtney in getting him evaluated what is it going to hurt and if something is wrong you can catch what ever it is early and that is important. Good luck J..

My son is the same way he is just about 2 & just starting to put together a couple of words. His sister was speaking sentences at 18 months. So I also think boys take a little longer with verbal skills. He is more into physical skills & using his body to get what he wants. I am still going to talk with my ped. also since it worries me a little as well.

I am not sure what a "standard" is, as every child is different and progresses at their own pace, but my oldest (who recently turned 3) was completely verbal around 2. Now at 3 he sounds like he's going on 13 because he even uses a little sarcasm - sheesh. I am sure you will get all kinds of responses though...

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