3 Year Old Started Stuttering

Updated on March 11, 2008
M.M. asks from Phoenix, AZ
30 answers

Hi, we have a 3 year old son who recently started stuttering. We had our daughter in December and it seems like the stuttering started around that time and it seems to be getting worse. I'm not sure if this is a result of the change with the baby or something else. I don't know if I should get him to a speech therapist or if this could just be a phase. I am very concerned and am hoping someone else may have experience this or may have some good advice for us.

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R.C.

answers from Phoenix on

I also had the same problem with my two kids. My oldest son stuttered for awhile. I was concerned, but was told to wait it out. Some kids go through phases. Finally, about the time he improved and quit, by daughter, who was starting to talk well, picked up on it and stuttered. I think with her she wanted to talk faster than she was able, and that led to stuttering. I don't know the correct way to handle it, so I would very nicely remind her to slow down and talk slower. It took some time, but she outgrew it. My advice to you would be to ride it out for awhile, and if it doesn't get better or stop after awhile, then seek help. Good luck!

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M.G.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi M.,
My son started stuttering when he was about 2 and against everyone's advice (dont take him, he'll grow out of it, etc)I took him to speech therapy and I have NEVER regretted it.
Even though it seems like they are just playing and talking with the therapist they are not. She is teaching him to speak better, helping him to slow down when he is excited.
My thought was children nowadays are cruel and I did NOT want my son to start school with those issues especially since he is so smart. There were chances of him becoming introverted and not being social. There was talk of being in a special ED class and I wasnt having that since he is not that type of child.
It could be something he could grow out of but as a parent I wasnt willing to take that chance. My son is now almost 8 and he rarely stutters. He is in 2nd grade but does 3rd grade work half the day and is in gifted and talented. Very, very rarely does he stutter.
If you have any more questions please ask.

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E.C.

answers from Phoenix on

I know how scary this is. My 3 year old started to stutter and it got so bad within just a few days. My husband and I were so worried we even called the stuttering foundation. They said it is a normal thing that happens very often and to wait it out at least 6 months. If nothing has changed then go ahead and seek help. I was still concerned since it came on so sudden and it being every word that she got caught up on. After a few weeks it just went away and she hasn't had any problems since. They said not to correct them or finish the word for them, it will just frusterate him. Just be patient. Hope this helps!

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C.S.

answers from Phoenix on

GM M.,
I had the same thing happen with my son @ 3 1/2. I had also just had my 2nd child. To be on the correct/safe side take to the doctor to make sure. But it's something that I asked all my friends about at the time & they said it was possibly because of the new baby but mostly because at this age the child has so much to say, get excited about getting it all out & the stuttering begins. My son had it for about a year & I have to say it was hard to take at times. I would get frustrated, mad, sad & kept thinking it was something more than just what I wrote above. But it turned out to be just a phase. My other 2 did not have this so it's just some kids that it effects..
Now my boys are 18, 15, 12 and are all talking just fine. It seems like just yesterday that I was going thru this. Now I have new issues that I write in to get advice about since I've never had kids this age. Each age comes with a new set a phases/questions & since each child is different it's seem to be never-ending dilemnas. My boys are my best friends now. Good Luck & I'm sure it's just a phase.
C. S.

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K.L.

answers from Phoenix on

Our daughter also started stuttering about the age of 3. I too was concerned that this was to be a long standing speech pattern. I was reassured by friends (one of which was a speech pathologist) that stuttering in children under the age of 5 is not uncommon. I was also told to not bring attention to it, not to finish the childs sentences, just to calmly wait for her to get out what she was trying to express. My daughter is 5 now and does not stutter at all.

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R.D.

answers from Phoenix on

Just ignore his stuttering. It is a natural developmental phase and will go away if it is ignored.

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P.L.

answers from Albuquerque on

Hi M., My second son was 20 months when his brother, our third son, was born. A few months later I began potty training the second son. He began stuttering terribly, could hardly get a couple words out without great difficulty. I totally backed off potty training, taking all pressure off him. In time the stuttering faded and completely disappeared.

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B.W.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi, I am an education major at MCC. I am currently taking a class that said if stuttering is caught early and worked on, then it is almost 100 percent curable. I would contact the local school near you, they have to help you for free. Or else your pediatrician can help too. My son has had speech problems his whole life, he is 7 now and still getting extra help. Good Luck!

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A.L.

answers from Phoenix on

He will grow out of it. I am 34 years old and stuttered till I was around 9 or 10. no worries

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M.D.

answers from Phoenix on

Both my daughter and son had a period of time where they stuttered. Their brains could think much faster than they could talk! They both started doing this about 2 1/2. My daughter stopped after a couple months, my son still stutters occasionally (he's 2 and 3/4). I think it's pretty normal, but if it's very pronounced and excessive, you should get him evaluated. But I'd give him some time to settle into his new role as a big brother. :)

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C.K.

answers from Phoenix on

Our son did the same thing! It scared us to death. All the possibilities of him spending his life as a stutterer flooded our heads and it was a really hard time. I am feeling what you are feeling right now. You must be so worried.
We also had several friends whose sons went through this.
Our pediatrician thought he would outgrow it, but we paniced and took him to a speech therapist. It cost us a fortune, and looking back, it was a waste of time and money. He did outgrow it and speaks beautifully.
Our pediatrician had been right. It is probably more developemental than being about the big change in his life. The important thing is to make sure that you don't rush him to say what he is trying to say. Give him the time he needs without teasing or finishing his sentences. Also, encourage him to slow down and think about what he wants to say. That really helped our son. His mind just seemed to be really ahead of what his speaking capabilities were.
I hope things will all turn out fine for your family :0)
Blessings, C.

T.C.

answers from Albuquerque on

Well, looks like you got a lot of good advice, and some very questionable...

I'd just like to add my voice in as a Mom and OT: listen to the Speech Therapists' advice, especially when it comes to not calling attention to the stuttering. My boy began stuttering quit a bit when our second was born, and now it only comes on when he's very excited.

And for everyone's amusement:
Please consider this (extremely abridged) list of famous stutterers:

Winston Churchill
Charles Darwin
Thomas Jefferson
Isaac Newton
Jimmy Stewart
Samuel L. Jackson
Carly Simon
Bruce Willis
James Earl Jones

T.

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L.P.

answers from Albuquerque on

My mother is a speech therapist and has been for 54 years. My son did this same thing and the advice she gave me was not to bring attention to it or try to hurry him up and correct it or it would just make it worse and really make a stutterer out of him. Kids at that age are learning new words and trying them out and they sometimes don't have the language they want for the thoughts they have. She did start working with him on pronunciations of letters in ways that he was not even aware they were actually doing "speech". He is 10 now and he doesn't even know about this stage he went throught. Bottom line, I would try ignoring the stuttering, just stand patiently while he tries to get the words out. Do not tell him he is stuttering or get mad at him about it. Bring no attention to it. See if he improves after everyone settles from the new baby. If not, I would get him evaluated by someone who is really good because a bad speech therapist can make it worse. Good luck.

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M.T.

answers from Flagstaff on

Singing gets them into the cadence and helps to prevent them from stuttering. The stuttering does make you pay more attention and you might want to considering bringing home a "new" baby for him, with the same celebration as you brought home yours. Complete with diapers, carrier & a bottle. He can sit with you and sing the baby to sleep. That way if there is really no speech problem you'll figure it out pretty quickly.

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G.V.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi M.,

Stuttering can be cause by a number of things: food, environment, or a traumatic event. It could be that having a new sibling is traumatic for him, causing the stuttering. It could also be a coincidence and actually be caused by food or a toxic overload from his environment.

I recommend discussing this issue with a Naturopathic doctor. There are many tools available to naturally bring your son's speech back to normal. I have a list of alternative care practitioners on my web site: www.HealthyHabitsWellnessCenter.com

Best wishes to you!

Warm Regards,
G.

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C.M.

answers from Tucson on

I completely understand.... it's a scarry thing when your baby starts stuttering. My oldest daughter started stuttering when she was 2 & 4 months. We had a 4 month old, I was trying to potty train her & we had just moved..... too much change. I talked to a friend who is a speach therapist & she said to stop as much new stuff as we could. So we stopped potty training. I then took her to a speech therapist & she said not to point it out to the child because that will elevate it. Get down on his level when he talks & just be patient w/him. If he does realize that he is doing it (my daughter did) encourage them that they are fine & help them think of a different word. But for sure don't point it out or tell him to slow down, or let people make fun of him. That will just make it worse. By the time he is 5 or 6 he should have out grown it. If that's not true then check into help.... that's what I was told. Hope this helps. :) -C.

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J.H.

answers from Phoenix on

Just better safe than sorry, have him tested for heavy metal poisoning. More likely than not, it won't be that, but one of my friend's daughter developed a stutter after allegedly being doubled up on shots (my pediatrician said that they don't put nearly enough mercury in the vaccines to do this, but there could be other sources like broken thermometers...etc..) I could be completely wrong (I probably am) but I would have him tested if I were in your shoes. Good luck and God Bless

Jen

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N.A.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi, M. my name is N. and I have two boys they are 3 and 6 yrs old. and when my little one was born the same exact thing happened to my oldest son he started stuttering a few days after the baby got home, he is completely fine now and he did not needed any theraphy or nothing it's just a way of them getting attention, but I am sure your son will be fine, good luck.

N. A.

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D.M.

answers from Albuquerque on

M. -
I am a SAHM with a 3 yr old girl & a 16 mo girl. We had a similar situation when my oldest was 2. She had a very good grasp of language. She actually started speaking 3 - 5 word phrases at 1. So I was distraught when she began to stutter on simple 2 or 3 letter words. It was so bad we did go to a speech Evaluation. But when we finally got in to see the therapist (about 3 months later) she had stopped. They did mention that it was common at this age since they were like a sponge toward linguistic skills. But that if she begins to display avoidance behaviors, such as not wanting to speak to certain people or in certain situations, she should be brought back in for a follow up evaluation.

I am happy to say we are stutter free for a year now. So hopefully this is something he will outgrow. If not, I recommend Laurie Ross-Brennan & Associates. (Albuq., NM)

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J.W.

answers from Flagstaff on

My son started stuttering right around 3 years of age and stuttered pretty badly for several months. I have read that this can be pretty common at this age as the brain undergoes a sort of growth spurt. The kids' brains are working faster than their bodies can respond. It usually lasts very briefly. Anyway, for my son, it lasted a few months and then disappeared about as quickly as it presented.

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C.S.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi, M.,
I am a retired speech pathologist so I have heard this same story MANY times. Most likely, it is just a stage that your little one is going through. The most important thing is to pay attention to WHAT he is saying and not HOW. Just be patient, let him get out the words and don't stop him and/or ask him to start over, or provide words for him. BE PATIENT. Sometimes these stages last for a few weeks, sometimes a few months. You should seek help if you notice that it is getting worse (happening more often or happening with any physical characteristics...eye blink, nodding, etc.) With all that said, as a parent, you might feel better about it if you did have a professional do a speech screening. You could contact your local school district to do that. It might make you sleep a little easier at night! :)Good luck!

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J.A.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi M.,
I am a speech therapist and without the details of your son's stuttering I can only give you some general tips. First many children this age stutter - it is very emotionally tied so when there are big changes in the family, such as the birth of a new baby, it can bring on stuttering patterns. To some extent everyone stutters and for children in particular when we test them there is a large amount of stuttering they can do before we consider it a problem that needs to be addressed in therapy. Some questions I would ask if I were evaluating him would be what types of situations does the stuttering occur? Does he stutter on the initial sound of a word (p p p pig) or on the word (Can Can Can I have a cookie?)?
The things we typically suggest to parents is to ask the child to stop and take a breath and then make good eye contact with your child and tell them that you are listening and they can take their time. Sometimes just letting a child know that they don't have to rush will solve the problem. Often little ones stutter just because they are thinking faster than they can move their mouths and they want to make sure you aren't going to stop listening so rather than pause they stutter.
With a new baby in the house it is so easy to have a lot of activity, tension, and fatigue - these things can also contribute to stuttering.
If you are still concerned you are welcome to email me at [email protected]____.com or contact the speech therapist of your choice for more specific advice related to your son.
I hope that helps.

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D.B.

answers from Phoenix on

One of our sons stuttered also and everyone kept telling me to take him to a speech therapist but one of my daughters teachers said it's normal for some to go through a phase of stuttering because sometimes their brain is processing info faster than they can spit it out:) Anyway, he is 20 years old now and hasn't stuttered since he was 4...his younger brother did the same thing intentionally because he thought it was "cool"!

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A.R.

answers from Phoenix on

When my daughter turned 3 she started doing that as well. She is an oly child. The Dr. told us that her little barin was just working too fast for her mouth and to tell her to take a deep breath and think about what she wanted to say. It seems to have worked perfectly. She does not studder anymore. She is now four.

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J.R.

answers from Albuquerque on

My daughter stuttered for pretty much the whole entire age of 3. She turned 4 in December & rarely stutters anymore. I was especially afraid, cuz my grandma & her brother both stutter. Didn't know if it ran in the family - ya know! But everyone I talked to about it told me how common it is for the age & like one post said - slow things down, let them try to finish their sentence. If I told my daughter to slow it down - she would usually not stutter. I think sometime their brains just work too fast for them to get their thoughts out fast enough. I wouldn't worry.

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K.R.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi M. - As a speech pathologist I agree what the others have said, to a point. Yes, kids can grow out of stuttering, but if they still don't grow out of it by age 5, they will most likely be a life stutterer. No one knows which kids will grow out of it and which ones won't. Also, do pay attention to it and bring it to his attention. Let him know that you are listening and have plenty of time to hear what he has to say. Try, try, try to slow things down in yours and his life. When you speak to him, use more pauses and maybe slow down a touch - not so much that is sounds weird and abnormal - just a touch and add more pauses. And let him finish what he is saying, don't finish it for him. If he shows frustration or any other behaviors - eye blinking, facial tension - see a Speech Pathologist.

good luck

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G.B.

answers from Phoenix on

Special Eductions Services start at the age of three and go until the age of 21. Contact the school district in your neighborhood. They will probably test your child at his home school. If they think it's a problem, they will most likely offer you services through the school at no charge. I had my son tested at age 3 because he couldn't say the "l" sound.

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D.T.

answers from Albuquerque on

Hi M.,

I do have experience with this as my younger brother also started stuttering when my youngest brother was born. What causes a child to do this is that they are afraid that they are not longer the center of attention. What I am about to tell you will work, it takes time, but it was the advise given to my parents from a child psychologist. There are many things to do to rememdy this.

1. Spend about an hour or two reading to your son
2. Speak clearly and slowly. Sometimes in the excitement of
having a new child, we tend to speak faster and our
children arn't comprehending exactly what we are saying.
3. When he goes to speak and he stutters, have him repeat
what he said slowly. That way he will repeat it without
stuttering. When kids try to speak sometimes their mind
gets jumbled, and their little brains can not process the
information from the brain to the lips.
4. Find a few books on tongue twisters and read them to him
over and over. Try to get him to repeat them to you.
This helps him to process the words more slowly and will
help him when he speaks.

Those are just a few things that we were told. It took about 6 months to a year for my brother to stop. I noticed that when my nephew was born, he too started stuttering at age 3. We all used these same steps, and he stopped in about 3 or 4 months. Just keep in mind that each child is different and the time frame will be different for your child.

Good luck to you.

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K.K.

answers from Albuquerque on

My daughter currently is going to speech therapy through the school district. She is 4 and has been going for a year now. She goes because she is hard to understand. But she started stuttering right before she turned 3 too. Her speech therapist is not worried about it right now but keeps and eye on it. You might want to contact the school district and see about getting him tested. My daughter will start kindergarten in the fall and she will technically be in special ed because of speech. All that means is that she will go to a different class room for 30 mins twice a week for speech therapy. And another person will observe her in class to make sure that she is doing okay. She will be in a regular class room. So don't be concerned about the "special ed" label. My daughter is very bright and has two kindergarten teachers who want her in their class because of the things that she can do already. LOL. So don't be scared of the label.

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S.R.

answers from Phoenix on

My 3yr old is doing the same. I've found that in our case, the stutter is due to overstimulation. He is the youngest-not dealing w/a new sibling-but is the tagalong to all the older kids' activities in the eves, etc. He stutters little to none at the daycare giver's house--he is in the company of only 2 other kids the same age and it is a very calming atmosphere. He begins stuttering on the way home when he is asking about the evening's agenda. I've found that not bringing attention to the stutter and taking more alone time with him has helped considerably. My 5yr old did the same at the same age & I had considered a therapist for him. He grew out of it in about a year and hasn't stuttered since. Hope I have helped----

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