14 Month Old Has Limited Vocabulary

Updated on September 25, 2008
K.N. asks from Westerville, OH
39 answers

I'm not sure if I should be concerned or not -- my 14 month old blabbers on all day long, but I can't understand her. She has a limited vocabulary, but can repeat things, if she feels like it. She used to say Mommom all the time, then it became Daddy. Now if I ask her to say Mommom, she'll say daddy and smile - like she knows it's not the right word. When she sees our dog, she'll say doggie, and occassionaly call him by name. If she's eating and done and you ask her if she's all done, she'll repeat back, "all done" and do our baby sign for all done.

How can i get her to speak more words? She spends 8 hours at the sitter's - who lets her and the other 4 kids watch PBS/Noggin a lot. The sitter has told me the new words she says while there, but I've yet to hear them. Is there anything more i can do to help her communiate more? We play with alphabet blocks every night, read every night, i show her things and repeat what it is all the time. I'm out of ideas.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the support. She is quite a babbler so I guess it'll just be a matter of time before she can say words I can actually understand.

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D.B.

answers from Dayton on

Something that I did with both of my kids was teach them sign language. Studies have shown that if you teach them sign language, they talk sooner. I thought that it would be just the opposite, but it actaully works. I have known S.L. for many years due to my work background and needing to know it, but they have some books and stuff and the libraries that are for babies and teaching them S.L. Good luck and believe it or not, one of these days you are going to look back and wish you had those "quiet" times again....I KNOW I DO!!

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K.H.

answers from Toledo on

My daycare also said the same thing about my son who is 2 years old. Sometimes you can understand him sometimes you cant. So they recommended me to a specialist who says my son is fine. Because he does talk clearly when he wants to. I suggest you talk to someone and they can give you ideas on what is needed to advace her vocab. The speicalist is still coming out to see my son but to give me advice on what to do to advance him. She feels he talks fine and that to have patience because there are words and phrases he says when he wants to and at times he babbles to get attention. Try the help me grow program.

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S.D.

answers from Indianapolis on

TOTALLY normal! Girls do talk more before boys, but my son still doesn't talk much at all and no sentences and my mom (early-el teacher with an early-ed endorcement on her degree) said just wait, all that babbling will become non-stop talking soon enough and then I'll wish for the babbling days. Just keep talking to her with adult words and grammar (don't dumb it down because she's young) and she'll pick it up.

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D.G.

answers from Columbus on

She sounds pretty normal to me. Do you give her praise when she speaks ? Some kids need "Good Girl "to get it into their little heads it is okay to speak. Too many Moms want a Quiet child.Believe me by the time she is 2 1/2 or 3 you'll be asking her to be quiet because everything will be why does this or that do whatever.

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S.C.

answers from Evansville on

I have 4 kids & all have been vastly different in when & how much they talked. Our oldest (a girl) only spoke a few words before she was 2. She could say things, but wouldn't. In fact, she called me "Ba" until 3 weeks before her second birthday. She didn't say "Mama" until I was in the hospital having our second child. He talked at 10 months & was clear as a bell in full sentances at 2. Our third talks all the time & has since he was 2, but he's hard to understand sometimes....

At 14 months I wouldn't worry too much about it. My 13 month old can say a few words, but pretty well refuses to. Last week, she looked at me & said "Mama" as plain as day....she never said it again. Some day....

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D.T.

answers from Indianapolis on

She sounds right on track to me. My kids have all had speech developmental delays and so I've talked with my fair share of speech specialists over the years. Your daughter sounds well within the normal range. Most kids go through a sudden 'spurt' of language between 14 and 18 months. The speech specialists usually aren't concerned with just knowing a few words until 18-20 months. By 18-20 months, kids should be speaking at least 20 words clearly (so a stranger can understand) and if they aren't, then you worry about getting them evaluated. Even if they don't hit that milestone it doesn't mean they need speech therapy or extra help... it depends on the circumstances and every child is different. It's just a general guideline to determine if further evalutation is needed.

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D.T.

answers from Muncie on

My 2 year old is just finally talking, she's always had a few words but now it seems she's picking up a word a day. I found that if you sit down and write down the words she uses you might find that she actually has a good amount, be mindful that she's not going to have perfect pronunciation and sometimes several words will sound the same and sometimes she'll make up her own words. Try to relax and not push her, just talk to her as much as you can. Tell her about your day, put her in her high chair when you cook dinner and tell her what you're doing. She'll pick things up.

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M.G.

answers from South Bend on

Don't worry, sounds like your daughter is a normal 14 month old. Her vocabulary will jump overnight as she turns two. Al least that is what mine did. Just keep talking to her. I felt that my daughter know what I was saying to her she just couln't say it back. You could try reapeting anything to her, you'll be amazed how she'll remember. I hope that helps. Don't worry!

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K.D.

answers from Youngstown on

Nolan was the same around then and beyond. He had his words that he said but some things I couldn't get. My dad kept asking if he was talking more yet - talk about pressure! I love him dearly though - didn't really upset me. I think around 2 years old he just started really babbling on with multi-word phrases that I could understand. Now at 29 mos he amazes me at his vocabulary. In other words - do give it time!

You may also want to read a lot to her. It will make you feel better that you are speaking to her more and introducing words and pictures. We read to Nolan quite often. She will probably love it to. You mentioned talking with her and the blocks but not specifically books.

I'm sure you'll see big changes over the next months.

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L.C.

answers from Dayton on

At 14 months old she is actually doing quite well. She will mimic your speech which is really a great thing as far as her building a vocabulary goes.

A couple of things to do or keep doing. Do as many baby signs as you can. It will help build her vocabulary significantly. Read to her every day at least one time, but more if you can swing it. Always speak to her in complete sentences, and when she is pointing or signing or even doing the "baby grunt" offer her the words and/or sign she needs to express herself. When you are feeding her, bathing her, going for walks, anything really, tell her what you are doing and walk her through it. Name things for her and extablish a game where she mimics.

She is doing really, really well, but if you want more words from her the best thing to do is offer her more words and opportunities to comprehend and use them.

Hope you and yours have a brilliant, beautiful day.

L.

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G.H.

answers from Cincinnati on

I think this is normal at this age. If you are really concerned, I'd talk to your pediatrician about it and have her hearing checked. If the child can't hear properly, she is not going to talk on time (we dealt with this with my son). Good luck

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T.P.

answers from Cleveland on

honestly you should just keep what your doing and just wait. cuz i thought the same thing with my daughter, and i waited for it and now she knows and says what she sees she calles people by name and so on. it will happen with time. good luck

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T.

answers from Cincinnati on

I have an almost 3 yr old girl who at the age of 14 months was talking up a storm and everyone kept saying she is ahead of herself. Now I have a 15 month old and she is doing what you daughter is doing. I thought she would pick things up faster since she has a sister who talks none stop but she will call me dad dad and laugh or smile. She does try to repeat almost everything we say but that is it. She has her few words we understand but no one else does. I am just taking it day by day with her and talking to her just like I talk to her older sister. My nephew who is 2 1/2 is now just saying things. He had only said mommy or daddy a few times and they had some therapist help him and he would talk around her but than when he got home he would not talk just grunt or point. He has a sister who is 6 yrs old and never stops talking. I think she will talk when she ready and just talk to her like she was a little person and not a baby. Good luck and keep us informed.

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P.H.

answers from Cleveland on

I have to agree with the others here that she is "on track." She's babbling right? I would take that as a precursory to talking. Wait till around 18 months and I bet you will see her just explode with some new vocabulary words. Good Luck.

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S.W.

answers from Canton on

When my son was about 15 months old we noticed that he also had limited vocabulary. We spoke with our doctor about it and she said that we would wait until he was 18 months old do anything but I was so nervous about it that I didn't want to wait. So, we ended up getting him into Speech therapy at Mercy Statcare and he is now 26 months and has been in speech since Nov. of last year and he is doing WONDERFUL! He still struggles with always making the correct sounds when he says words, but other than that, my husband and I are VERY pleased with how speech therapy improved his vocabulary.

We also did get hearing tests done and he ended up having to get tubes put in his ears and this helped out a lot too. But he was getting a lot of ear infections also.

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H.M.

answers from Cincinnati on

In my experience (which is pretty extensive) she's developing similar to other children that age. I have worked in Daycare centers with that specific age group as well as having raised two of my own and two nieces, the youngest of which is 16 months old. Some kids gain their vocabulary faster, but just because they can say it, doesn't mean they will all the time or on command, so I wouldn't doubt what your sitter is telling you, there may be verbal cues at her house that you don't have at home - like you said - if she is mimicking the boys she may be repeating some of their words and they just aren't coming up at home. I wouldn't push it too much. I'm not saying you are doing anything wrong working on this at night, but I just don't want you to freak out thinking that she is behind.

If you are concerned about the amount of TV she is watching at the sitter's then say something ( I couldn't tell by the tone of your post if that was a concern or not). Verbal skills are mostly learned by example. Talk to her about what you are doing throughout your day/night, tell her the names of things, etc. It really sounds like she is right on track. 14 months is still very young - it's also very common for them to fixate on one word (like mom or dad) and use it a lot. You will be amazed 6 months from now how incredibly her vocabulary has grown - it's exponential!

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K.I.

answers from Cincinnati on

K.,

Relax. Give her time. She can speak, she interacts, she is learning. Be patient. Just keep talking with her, teaching her, and let her go at her own pace!

Best wishes,
K.

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L.S.

answers from Evansville on

Depending on where you live, you can ask your pediatrician about First Steps. They are available in Indiana but I don't know about other states. My daughter participates in the program (she is 21 months). She was not saying enough words at her 18 month appointment. A therapist comes to our house once a week and works with her speech. They would come to your daughters daycare if you wanted. The fact that your daughter is using signs is great. She is soaking in all the information you are giving her it's just not coming out yet. Just really repeat everything you want her to say. If you put a hand motion to the word she will catch on faster also. Like my daughter does- up, up, up and raises her arms up; says an object is big and uses her arms to make a big circle over her head. Also make the work fun to say, like telling her she is a BIIIGGG girl and do the hand motions. Just do silly noises and actions to words and she will catch on. Also when you use books, ask her where the dog is and make her point to it. I hope this makes sense. Good Luck!!!

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K.W.

answers from Youngstown on

I wouldn't worry too much about it. If she is communicating and speaking some words then she is right where she needs to be. If she weren't talking at all then there might be some cause for concern. She is still pretty little to be talking more than what she is doing. I would say she is just normal. As for saying Daddy when asked to say Mommom, she knows exactly what she is doing. If it irritates you or causes a fun reaction then that is why she does it. Take it as your daughter does understand and may just have a fun teasing you. My daughter did this too. I think it is their little way of being in control for a minute. Keep doing what you are doing and she will talk more soon enough.

K.

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J.C.

answers from Fort Wayne on

You're too paranoid. My son didn't start really talking where you could understand him until around his 3rd birthday. Now, he's 4 1/2 and reading books on his own. Smart as a whip. 14 months is very young to be worried about developmental stuff yet, unless it's something like crawling or walking. Even then, my little brother didn't walk until he was almost 16 months.

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A.W.

answers from Indianapolis on

It sounds to me like she's right on track! Children can understand a lot more words than they can actually speak at this point too. Don't worry!

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H.L.

answers from Terre Haute on

Yours sounds like both of mine at 14 months and now at two years old both of mine are talking just fine.

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C.M.

answers from Fort Wayne on

if you are worried about her speech development, i would contact the Children First Center (Healthy Families) at 1-800-824-2698 and ask about the "First Steps" program....we had them come out and test our daughter at 16 months because she was speech delayed (due to being adopted internationally) and they came out to work with her every week. we really loved it and our daughter caught up quickly. their website is www.childrenfirstcenter.org and the best part is that their services are free!

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T.M.

answers from Bloomington on

she's FINE!!! this sounds right on task for her age.

farm books and toys are great because animal sounds are easy "words" and are really fun to learn. if you took her to a farm and she saw a real cow, chickens, etc, she'd start making animal sounds and really love them.

don't stress, she's got plenty of time to learn how to talk.

turn off the tv, it doesn't help.

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N.M.

answers from Indianapolis on

At 14 months? She's fine. Keep exposing her to vocabulary everywhere, in the car, home, by reading books, labels at the store, everything. They don't talk a ton at 14 months. But beware....one day it'll seem like she slept on a dictionary. They are learning the process of talking, not the individual words. Basically, once she has it figured out, it's kind of like they just all click! Next comes the sentences. Just stay patient and positive. It'll happen.

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H.G.

answers from Columbus on

your daughter sounds very much like mine in many ways! very active, independent, fun, enjoys playing 'roughly' with boys, etc. my daughter is 22 months old & still hardly says anything. we know she completely understands what we're saying & sometimes if she wants to, she will say a few words here or there, but not much. i have talked with our pediatrician about this a few times & her response has always been that some kids focus on other developmental skills, such as gross & fine motor skills first & that some toddlers don't even start talking until age 2 & that is perfectly normal. and when i see my 22 month old climbing ladders & building block towers like a 3 year old...it reminds me that the pediatrician is right & it will be soon enough that she will start talking & will never stop!

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S.K.

answers from South Bend on

I don't think any of my kids were talking much at that age at all! I had one of my boys tested when he was 2 1/2 because he only said a handful of words (later we found out that it was because his twin brother did all the talking for him lol). But, after raising 3 boys through that stage, now that I'm on my last baby (almost 20 months) I am not worried that he only says a couple of words. Seriously, he pretty much only says Da-Da... he CAN say Ma-Ma... but like yours, he will look at me and smile and say "Da-Da" when I ask him to say Ma-Ma lol. He is VERY independant.

It sounds like you're doing a wonderful job working with your little one. Keep doing what you're doing and don't stress about it. My late talker is now in 4th grade getting straight A's and reading on a 7th grade reading-level. :-)

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K.H.

answers from Youngstown on

K.,
I am no expert on the subject, but I have a 17 month old son who has been saying the same things since 14 months. No, dog, shoes and Uh oh. Sometimes mama and dada. The rest is mostly babbling - all day long. I am not worried. Just make sure you talk as much as you can every moment you are with her.
Feel free to contact me if you would like to talk more. Some times it helps to just have someone who is going through a similar situation.
Here is my e-mail - [email protected]____.com, I haven't figured out how to conference room someone.
K.

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R.B.

answers from Toledo on

It sounds like she's doing fine to me, but if you are concerned about her development, talk to your pediatrician about it. It sounds like you're doing all the right things. Keep reading to her and talk to her a lot, describing things as you are doing them. Her hearing seems to be fine, and she is very young to expect a lot of vocabulary. A child's thinking and understanding of language is also ahead of his talking. Some kids are just quieter as they are learning and then will suddenly start talking all the time!

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L.B.

answers from Columbus on

Your little girl sounds like she's right on track. She'll talk when she's good and ready. My son didn't say more than a couple of words at 12 months and now, at 27 months, he's a great talker. She may be working on something else developmentally and taking a break from talking. That's ok. You don't have to force it. Every child will learn to talk in their own time.

I would be concerned about the sitter and the TV issue. Are you paying this sitter? If this is her profession, you have every right to challenge her use of tv to do her job. Sounds like she doesn't want to confront the inevitable conflicts that come with a house of 4 children. (it takes a lot of constant energy and patience, which personally I wouldn't want to do, but that is why I do not choose to be a professional day care provider) These conflicts however, are neccessary for the children to learn how to be considerate people. I would recommend looking around for another sitter before you talk to her to see what else is out there. Try to observe during the day for at least an hour. You will be able to see how they handle sharing, taking turns, etc among the children. She should be patient. The caregiver should not be yelling at all and raising their voices only rarely. She should not be trying to do housework with the kids there, other than folding clothes in the same room as the kids. There should be plenty of open-ended toys to play with like blocks, cars, dolls, babies, tinker toys, a doll house, kitchen stuff, legos (not the itty bitty ones. TV is ok for the older kids that don't nap during naptime, but movies are better since they have a longer story to be told.

I had a sitter for my daughter that I thought was great since she had the same "attachment parenting" philosophy as I do. She wore my baby in a sling and had other similarities to my own parenting style. But sometimes when I dropped off my daughter as she was able to walk, the sitter, would sometimes not come over to the door to greet my daughter with a hug. I found out when my daughter was about 18 months old, that she was not playing very much at the sitter's house and that she was totally uncomfortable there. Anyway, it was a good parting time because my son was about to be born, so we parted ways. I found another sitter that had two openings for my two kids four months later. By observing the new sitter, I found out how much the first sitter was lacking in her ability to communicate and engage my daughter. So the moral of my long-winded story is: if you feel a little uncomfortable with something at the sitter's house, you are justified. Just because you like the sitter personally doesn't mean that she is the best for your child. I felt horribly guilty for months afterward, but my daughter has recovered beautifully and is a very social 4-year old now.

Hope this helps. Sorry to be so verbose!
Laura

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M.R.

answers from Columbus on

K.,

At 14 months, she is well withing normal limits. However, if things do not improve and she has not expanded her vocabulary by 24 months, you should have it checked out by a professional who will measure her skill and give you more than anecdotal specualtion that really does not help you at all.

The things that stood out to me in your post were that you can't understand her and that she is not imitating speech very well, so I would watch those things as she approaches the two year mark and be ready to get true and measurable information about your daughter's speech and language development if this does not develop well over the next ten months. The other thing I would ask you is if you really think that she "lost" a word when she stopped saying Mommom? If you really think that, then you should be very cautious, because any child who looses a langauge skill should be evaluated imedeately no mater what thier age, skill loss, verses the failure of a skill to develop is a much different kettle of fish that no parent should ever ignore.

M.

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K.S.

answers from Cleveland on

I was worried about my 13 month old son's vocabulary too until his one year dr's appt. His doctor asked what he was saying, I explained how he had been trying to speak more before he started walking at 10 months. How he doesn't say mommy or daddy, but he'll say 'get down dharma'(our dog)and 'lay down' and of course the famous 'all done'. Oh and then there's 'kitty'. Needless to say the doctor was impressed! Here I was all worried that I had somehow stunted my son's intellect because I have the TV on and the doctor was impressed. Fact of the matter is kids will stop with the vocabulary when they are learning other things(in this case walking) Two word phrases are highly unusual for babies at this age so it sounds to me like your daughter is probably OK. If you are truly worried just keep talking to her whenever you can and read to her often! She'll be just fine!

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L.D.

answers from Columbus on

Hi K.,
No need to rush things! Kids now days are pushed so hard to do so much that their childhood virtually doesn't even exist any more. My daughter started talking at 7 months and was reading and spelling words at age 2. She pushed herself. We read to her every day until she was nearly 10. It's great bonding time. My daughter is now 22 and talks so fast most of the time she has to repeat herself slowly. LOL. Her daughter is 16 months and suddenly started talking. I see no need to rush and "keep up with the Jones'" as the saying goes. Just enjoy your daughter while she grows.
mddhf

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R.G.

answers from Indianapolis on

All the ladies under advices had said everything I agree with. Your daughter is doing great. I also have two daughters 3 y/o and 15 months old. My younger one is doing exactly as your daughter is. She doesn't even go to daycare. But she use lots of sign language. I bought a dvd on sign language when my elder daughter was learning to speak. She really loved watching it and now I am using it for my younger daughter too. I also borrowed couple of books and some other dvds on sign language from the public library for myself. Sign language is a wonderful way of building up the vocabulary of kids of that age.

Here's the website some of the website to show you the dvds I am using for my daughter

My baby can talk: Baby's first signs
http://www.mybabycantalk.com

There are some more names of dvds which are very educative and great for building vocabulary. I use them for my daughters all the time and they love them.

Check the dvds under http://www.brainybaby.com

You don't have to buy these dvds if you don't want to. I'm sure you can easily find them in the public library.

Relax and enjoy their life with you. Every kid is unique and have her own pattern of growing up and learning things.

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D.H.

answers from Dayton on

If it's any consolation, we're in the same boat with our almost 15 month old. Even with the refusal to say "mama", although she used to. She says "dada" EVERY time I ask her to say mama, and she smiles at me so mischieviously when she does it!! She's with me all day and I've seen her say a few words here and there that she hasn't repeated much- like "banana" and "birdie", but mostly she says "hodden" (?!) or "hi" for a greeting, dada or daddy, and does a few gestures for other items like cat, airplane, bath, toothbrush.. our own family sign language- but no words yet for these things. She has learned the word "turtle", though- that's new, and when we read a book on body parts- she points out the right ones at most pages (stomping her feet when we ask her where her feet are, etc...)

I'm not concerned; I think the words will come when she's ready! I hope I'm not misinformed...Good luck and have fun!!

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E.B.

answers from Fort Wayne on

I was worried about my son not being able to speak a lot of words by his second birthday, but it seems as though he studied the dictionary over night because all of a sudden he was speaking to us like crazy. Just remember all kids grow at different rates. Talk to your babysitter about how you feel about television - too many hours in front of the tv is bad for their development. At home talk about everything... Explain to her what you are doing/how you're doing it as simply and in as few words as you can - and repeat this process and she will catch on.

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L.J.

answers from Cincinnati on

Dear K.,
I wouldn't be overly concerned about her vocabulary at this point especially if she is around a bunch of boys. When we took him to the Dr, she asked if he said 5 words and I responded "no". He had many made-up words, but not 5 words anyone could understand. He stuttered when he was 2.
Then between 2-3 he spoke where we could understand him. Now he is 14 and he talks so much that I think he is taking up for lost time!
I would continu to do what you are doing because the repitition will help her. Give her some time. It sounds like she is a very smart little girl. L. J

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M.B.

answers from Lafayette on

Just keep doing what you're doing. Talk to her (in adult words, not baby talk) all the time. Tell her everything you're doing or everything she's doing. Point out the names of toys, household items, etc. You're doing well!!

Both of my kids started speaking clearly early. My daughter just turned 5 and my son is 2 1/2. We still get lots of comments about how they both speak well. Just keep up the practice...she'll learn! (And she's doing great for her age...no worries!) :)

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B.M.

answers from Dayton on

Hello, My daughter was an early talker but all kids are different. My nephew is 20 months old and we were all starting to worry because he was not talking at all. All of a sudden last month he started talking up a storm! He is saying everything! He is answering questions and putting together a few word sentences. He started talking alot later than my daughter or neice (his sister) but now is a chatter box! It goes to show kids timing is different on alot of things! Best Wishes for your family!!

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