36 answers

When Should I Be Concerned If My 13 Month Old Is Not Saying Alot?

I've taken my 13 months old to the ENT to see if his ears are blocked (nothing there), I read books with (he's somewhat interested), and try to speak slowly so he can see how I'm saying things... However, my little man is just not saying any words on a consistant basis. I don't know if I'm just overly concerned (my 3 year was talking early) or if I should be talking to someone to get help for him... Anyone have a similar situation? He's hitting all other "milestones" but this one has me concerned?

Thanks for any feedback.

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So What Happened?™

THANK YOU to everyone who wrote me back! You all gave such great advice and I really appreciate all the feedback. My little guy is babbling more (saying UP, MAMA, DADA, BABA) but I don't feel so anxious to push as I was. I'm going to talk about it with the ped in my 15 month appointment, but I feel so much more ... calm about the whole thing. You've all helped me calm down a bit :)

THANKS!

Featured Answers

My brother did not talk until he was 3 years old. Nothing. Not even mama and baba. I was born after him and started speaking in 2-3 word sentences at 14 months, and he was still silent. People kept telling my mom he must be deaf or retarded, and she had him tested, but nothing. Then, at all once, he started talking and now we can't shut him up. He did not show any other signs of problems--he understood language, managed to communicate with signs, facial expressions, and grunts; did not walk on his tip toes, etc.

I was concerned about my daughter who is now 22 months. At around 18 months she all of a sudden started talking and in mini sentences. It was truly amazing. She also loves books and never watches TV. I was concerned because the other kids in her daycare class were speaking really well early on and I could only get about 5 words from her. She also had constant ear infections - to the point they wanted to put tubes in. My husband and I now joke about it because now she talks so much that we say "which was better, her not talking or her talking constantly." If the ENT says there isn't any blockage or previous damage then either get a second opinion or give him some time.

My son did not start repeating and saying a lot of words until 20-21 months. He said about 10 words between 15-18 months. He wasn't saying any words except maybe ma at 13 months. My ped said it is completely normal for boys to start talking between 20-24 months.
K.

More Answers

Boys usually take a little longer to start speaking than girls. Just google it and you will find lots of information. The most important thing is to talk about what is going on around them. It doesn't matter what they say as much as what they hear. If you want your child to commuincate more with you, you could try a few sign language signs. This is my favorite web site to look up signs. Start with something you know he really likes, car or book, milk or airplane. Signing is a second language just like teaching them spanish early on. My son is 15 months old and signs 20 different words and he says about 20 words too. Sometimes he signs and sometime he speaks the words. http://commtechlab.msu.edu/Sites/aslweb/browser.htm

Good Luck.

K.

All kids speak at different times. My oldest son didn't speak much until about age 2 and is fine. I wouldn't worry.

I have two daughters. One just turned four and the other is two in two weeks. The older one talked alot at a very young age and I expected it from the younger one too. Like yours, however, she didn't speak much. She would use similar sounds and she seemed to understand words and follow direction alright. I just let it go and by about 16 months she really picked up on words and would speak many new ones each day. Now that she's almost two, I feel she's right on track with other kids and still picking up new words all the time. I had to realize too that all kids develop on their own and not to worry that she didn't keep pace with her older sister. Only you will feel whether there may really be a problem and to take them in. Otherwise, give them time.

I was concerned about my daughter who is now 22 months. At around 18 months she all of a sudden started talking and in mini sentences. It was truly amazing. She also loves books and never watches TV. I was concerned because the other kids in her daycare class were speaking really well early on and I could only get about 5 words from her. She also had constant ear infections - to the point they wanted to put tubes in. My husband and I now joke about it because now she talks so much that we say "which was better, her not talking or her talking constantly." If the ENT says there isn't any blockage or previous damage then either get a second opinion or give him some time.

If it will bring you some peace of mind, I suppose there's no harm in checking into things further (e.g., Early Intervention) as some have suggested, but I just wanted to encourage you not to worry. My daughter spoke extremely early - people couldn't believe how verbal she was - and since she was my first child, I had nothing to compare it to, but then when my first son was born and barely said anything by age 2, I was a little worried ... but not too worried since he clearly understood everything, as evidenced by his behavior. Then, between 2-3, he blossomed verbally like you wouldn't believe, and now at almost 4, he is very talkative. Currently with my second son, who is almost 12 months, I'm going through the same thing: he can barely say any words, and the 3 that he can say (mama, dada, uh-oh), he rarely says. However, as with my first son, his actions show that he understands everything, so I'm not worried - I know with time, these boys do start to talk, and then we wish they wouldn't talk quite so much!

Hi~
My ped. says they should have at least 3 words by 15 months and hopefully closer to 6. I was concerned at 12 months my daughter didn't have any, but had 20 words at 15 months. SO maybe he'll "bloom" soon! She also said to make sure they are understanding (receptive lnguage)m is good--then the words will come!

L.

I really would not be concerned at this point. He is still really young. My son, who is now 5, did not really talk much until he was 2. Now I can't keep him quiet! : ) Give it some time and I'm sure he will start chatting away. Just remember, every child is different, so try not to compare him to your older child. Take care!

Hi M.,

If you are concerned, call Ealry Intervention. I have the phone number for Lake County, but not for Kane, since I think that is where you live. The reason you should do this is because it is regulated by the state. Your child needs to be 30% behind to qualify for services. They do a free evaluation. If you call speech therapy places they will say they do a free "screening", but they charge big bucks for the evaluation. I know this too well first hand. Also, Early Intervention may be cheaper than private speech therapy, because paying for this is based upon your household income and the number of people in your family. E-mail me if I can help you answer more questions. Good luck. My ped. said it is better to start therapy earlier if you need it than later. You are doing the right thing. :) Call, it will at least give you peace of mind if he doesn't need it. Good Luck :)

J.

As others have said, no need to be concerned about that at this point. I remember it was the 15 month appointment that it was asked if he spoke 5 words according to their developmental questions they asked. Beyond mama, dada, etc., my second son who mastered speaking on the earlier side of the spectrum said "Hat/hot", "I want ball" and "I have ball". And that was my "early" talker as they said in terms of him speaking in sentances and other people noticed in terms of clarity and such, so I really wouldn't worry about it at this point. My first son was normal to maybe a little slower of a talker, though I don't remember when he said what, but I remember he wasn't able to speak as well as my second son at the same age. But anyway, how well they speak is not really a concern to doctors it seems until at least 15 months.

I would not be too concerned yet if he is reaching his mile stones. You are doing the right thing by reading to him. I recommend Baby bumble bee videos, which might encourage him to talk. Also use flashcards. Talk to him as much as possible, using short sentences. When he request something this is the time to encourage him to at least babble, for example if he wants his bottle, ask him what he wants and wait to see if he says anything. The slightest sound he makes give him his bottle, even if it takes 15 minutes or more. I helps is you have dad behind him whispering the answer “bottle”.

However, do communicate your concerns to your pediatrician, from my experience if he does not speak by the time he turns two, you need to pressure for help such as speech. I have an 8 year old autistic boy, I wish someone would have given me this advice when he was 13 months.

Good luck to you and you little boy.

My 22 month old son says mama, ut oh and Amen, and that's it! I am not overly concerned. He vocalizes a lot and will talk in his own time. My niece who is the same age talks up a storm. I think that's the difference between boys and girls.

Just as a note of reassurance...I don't know if your first was a girl or not, but it's common for boys to take longer to start talking. Boys are simply not as social as girls. It's also common for kids with older siblings to take longer to talk than their siblings because they don't feel the need to communicate as strongly, especially if older sib does the talking for him. It doesn't necessarily mean that he doesn't know/understand the words he hears around him. By all means, make sure there isn't anything physically wrong with him, but if he seems to comprehend what goes on around you and responds to verbal directions, etc., I'd personally give him a bit more time before I started bringing in the "specialists". Remember - when it comes to your child, you're the best specialist there is. If your instincts are screaming that something's wrong - go with them. If not, sit back and see what happens. Good luck!

My brother did not talk until he was 3 years old. Nothing. Not even mama and baba. I was born after him and started speaking in 2-3 word sentences at 14 months, and he was still silent. People kept telling my mom he must be deaf or retarded, and she had him tested, but nothing. Then, at all once, he started talking and now we can't shut him up. He did not show any other signs of problems--he understood language, managed to communicate with signs, facial expressions, and grunts; did not walk on his tip toes, etc.

Sometimes children focus on mastering one thing such as walking and the verbal may take a back seat and vice versa. Keep using a lot of language with him and take him to different places. Make sure others are using correct language with him too. Every child learns at different levels. I would start to get concerned if he still was not using different words at age 18 months. Is he in a day care setting or nanny/sitter? Sometimes learning styles can be impeded in anyone of these depending on the best way your child learns. I work in early childhood and have had several different experiences.

Do not worry too much! My son who is not 3 talks all the time. His peds office made me concerned at his 12 month appointment and suggested I get him evaluated. After much worry and lost sleep over it, we had the evaluation and they found nothing wrong. If it makes you feel better to get him evaluated then do it. When I did it, they came out to my house and observed my son. Then they came back again and gave me the results and said he was fine. My older son did not have these issues. Everyone expects your second child to do things quicker because they have an older sibling around. It is isn't always the case. Good Luck!

Neither one of my 2 sons (who are 3 and 5) said a whole lot before they were two. I wouldn't worry about it at all. Their pediatrician had mentioned sending both of them to a speech therapist, but they both just developed on their own time and we can't get them to stop talking now!! Don't worry about it too much, those boys take a little longer than the girls.

Hi M.,

My son is 20 months and I have (had) the same concerns. My pediatrican said not to worry until about 21-22 months, and then if he is still not talking (3 or more words) to have him tested. Second children tend not to talk early though and boys really do not talk early. I would not worry just yet, but talk to your pediatrican at your 15 or 18 month check up to see what they think.
Good luck!

My son did not start repeating and saying a lot of words until 20-21 months. He said about 10 words between 15-18 months. He wasn't saying any words except maybe ma at 13 months. My ped said it is completely normal for boys to start talking between 20-24 months.
K.

We have 14 month old twins that I'm a little concerned about too. Our 5 year old was saying a lot by 1. We actually just used that Early Intervention program for gross motor skills for our twin son. We may be calling them again, but we'll see what our pediatrician says first. I've been told even if they're not talking as long as they understand what you're saying then there isn't anything to worry about.

Take care,
J.

Our son, now 9 years, didn't spaake much at 12 months and 15 months. At each pediatrician visit we discussed his speech, and at home I watched for progress or signs of further delay. I didn't worry much about it, just monitored. At almost 18 months he still wasn't saying much so we had him evaluated. He qualified for speech therapy services and was in speech therapy for almost 6 months. During that time, his speech blossomed. We'll never know if it was the therapy that did it or if he just happened to be "ready" to talk at that time. I don't regret the speech therapy though because if he did have a delay, we caught it early and since then he has had no real speech problems. I've know people who've waited to0 long for an evaluation and then the child is in speech therapy while in elementary school, which is emaotionally more challenging for a child than when handled in infancy or pre-school. For now, don't worry; talk with your pediatrician at the next visit. Most delayed speakers are just that, delayed (for whatever reason), and there's not a more complicated problem.

Ask your pediatrician. I think it's a little early to be concerned , but I had a similar thing happen with my 3rd child. The other two talked early, but my third despite hitting other milestones, seemed to not be saying much. After he turned two, he babbled a lot, but could only say a few words clearly. Talk to your pediatrician and if he thinks there's a problem, have him give you a referral to a speech therapist who can test him. My little guy started with his speech therapist at 2 1/2 and he's making great progress--I wish we could have started him earlier. He has low muscle tone in his mouth and tongue tie, which makes it harder for him to speak clearly.

Does your 3 year old help out a lot, making so the little one doesn't need to talk? I didn't think you needed to worry until after 18 months. The talking milestone is such a wildcard, there are many factors to look at. Your pediatrician will know. Did you talk about it at the 12 month checkup? You could even call the nurses' line and leave a message with them and they'll call you back and let you know if you need to come in.

Your son sounds just like how my son was at 13 months! My son is 20 months now...at 14 months I called Early Intervention...he has been getting speech therapy every week and has improved so much- if you have any doubts call- they will evaluate for free.

My 13 months old is barely saying mama and dada consistently. I hadn't even thought to worry. If everything else is typical, just give it some time.

Just to clarify- early intervention services through the state of IL do cost a monthly fee dependent on your family's income. Most pediatric clinics go through insurance - so you pay your percentage or co-pay per your insurance plan. Some clinics will do free-screenings - a speech-language pathologist will discuss your current concerns with you and observe your child for 10-15 minutes. The purpose of a free-screening is to determine if there is enough concern to warrant a full evaluation; it is NOT to diagnose speech-language delays/deficits. I know Rainbow Center in Aurora, IL does both free screenings and full evaluations.

M.,
Is your 13 month old babbling consistently and making a variety of sounds? Will he imitate you making different sounds (e.g. p, b, m - earliest developing consonants)? As long as he is doing or beginning to do these things and meeting his other milestones, I would hold off for a few months before getting an evaluation done. 13 months is pretty early to begin speech-language intervention with if his expressive communication is the only delay. If it is really worrying you, set up a free-screening. It never hurts.

Hope this helps!!

Just another note of reassurance. I have a little boy who is now 2.5 and he was a late talker. (Now he won't stop and he speaks in full sentences) When I was worried that he wasn't talking, my doctors said not to worry as long as he understands what you are saying. They said to keep reading to him and trying to encourage him to talk, make animal sounds, etc. Of course when he did talk, his first word was "No" and I think he figured he didn't need to learn any other words than that. LOL..

I was on the cusp of having him evaluated by early intervention but then around 18 months he started saying some words. It seems from my experience and from other moms that have kids around my sons age... boys just take longer. Also they seem to master a few words and just communicate with those for a really long time.

Talk to your doctor, but you may want to wait a few months to have him evaluated - my understanding is that only the first early intervention eval is free and other evals and the speech therapy is on a pay grade scale.

Good luck!

My son started speaking when he was 20 months old. He's brilliant! Unless he's showing signs of deafness (like not turning to you when you call his name), I wouldn't worry.

I agree with the 15 month point. If, in two months, he's not saying anything, it MAY be of concern, but of course, like so many people have already stated - he also can just be a late talker.

My son is now 2. I was only a little worried when he didn't talk by 15 months, and I mentioned it to my ped at that well visit. The doctor had us get my son's hearing checked. We did and that turned out fine, but we went ahead and had him evaluated through Early Intervention. I did this b/c we have an 8 year old, developmentally delayed, non-verbal niece AND because he wasn't even babbling. He really didn't make much sound at all. He could not even imitate animal sounds. I sensed that my son was actually having trouble making sounds. My son also understood EVERYTHING and used sign language - but did not say anything except - mama, dada & Hi!. He started speech therapy when he was 18 months. I am glad that we had him evaluated early. In the past 6 months, he has made amazing progress. He speaks A LOT - in sentences - but he really does have articulation problems and I've learned tricks from the therapists to teach him to make sounds with his mouth.

Bottom line- like people said - kids really are on different time lines - I know a TON of kids who didn't say a word until 18 months and then it was an explosion. It never hurts to get other people's opinion. good luck!

My brother didn't talk until he was almost two. The doctor said it was because I did all the talking for him, but I'm not so sure these days.

His son didn't talk until he was much older and I have family here in IL that have children that don't talk much. I have one nephew right now that is almost three and he's not talking much at all. He seems to be developmentally on track as far as everything else goes and the same boy has an older sister that was the same way and she is 7 now and smart as a whip.

I read somewhere not too long ago that studies are showing that late talkers seem to do very well in math and music.

As long as your little one isn't showing signs of Autism I wouldn't worry about it. Signs would include but not necessarily be evident in all cases:

not making eye contact

not liking physical contact like hugs

doing things reptitively like bobbing the head, moving the hand a certain way over and over, or in my brother's son's case...jumping in place all the time

becoming very obsessed with a certain activity or objects...like loving baseball so much he can tell people batting averages at five... or my brother's son could recite a line from any Disney movie during every day situations that would be appropriate for that situation. Some also like to collect things.

You can look it up, but I would just talk to your pediatrician before you freak out. Often doing research on the internet can scare the mess out of you.

I have a nephew who did not speak much until he was about 4. He had older siblings and just didn't need to. He is fine and in first grade now. If, in a few months, you have him checked and everything is O.K. I would let it go. One day, you will wish he would be quiet. : )

My son barely talked until about 2 years! He said Mama yes but other then that he had sign language and lots of babbling baby talk. Not unusual for boys especially.

I think I posted the same thing about my daughter at the same age! My now 3 year old son was talking in sentences before he was two, and still speaks more clearly than kids older than him. But my daughter is a bit different as far as development goes. Now that she's almost 19 months, she's finally really grasping the talking concept. Of course, since she's the baby, she still gets a lot by crying. My doctor told me that the youngest usually talks last because they don't have to talk to get what they want. If you're having a real issue with him screaming because he doesn't get what he wants, try signing. It worked wonders for us with number 2 and number 3, and it does NOT delay speech. Say the word with the sign and he'll start understanding they go together. Good luck!

It is not that unusual, especially for a boy. Boys often are slightly later talking. It is not uncommon for a child to only say 9-10 words by 18 months. There are some children that have hundreds of words by that age and some that are the opposite. If you are concerned, you should talk to your pediatrician but I wouldn't overly worry about this just yet. If by 2 he only had a few words that might be more concerning.

I wouldn't be too worried. Even if you don't realize it, your 3 year old is probably doing all the talking for him. As long as you got the physical problems ruled out like hearing problems you shouldn't worry too much until he's at least 2 years old. When he feels the need to be understood and his older sibling can't say it for him, he should start talking.

honestly you don't worry until they are at least 15 months old. So you still have a few months before I would be concerned.

My two daughters were 26 months apart. I had a little boy come up to me one time and say that my youngest one doesn't talk much. I said she doesn't "have" to, her older sister does it all. If you're concerned check with your doctor. But don't worry...I'm sure he's fine.

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