Is Speech Development Faster for Kids in Day Care?

Updated on January 12, 2011
J.M. asks from Melrose, MA
31 answers

My first daughter was in full time day care and had/has great verbal skills (had many words and knew her animal sounds at 15 months. My 14 month old has only one word, I am not concerned yet since she understands everything but people around her say, "it's because you are home with her, she doesn't hear as many words." Does this actually have research behind it or just anecdotal evidence? I am curious if true or not, no big deal if it is true, I know she will catch up. Thanks!

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Boston on

Every child develops at their own pace. My children did/do not go to daycare and my son spoke exceptionally well at a very young age. I try not to compare him to my daughter who has less words at her age than he did. I do believe there is some truth to having improved verbal skills when children are spoken to more though.



answers from Boston on

A bit late but just wanted to chime in with my experience - my oldest started talking at 10 months (a few words - not really conversational until age 2.5) and he didn't start daycare until 18 months old. My younger two were quite late - my second just had 10 words at his 2nd birthday and my youngest had about the same - neither became chatty until they were around age 3 - and they were both at daycare starting at 6 months. So, no, I don't see nor have I ever heard of a correlation between speech and childcare. All of mine are boys and they tend to talk later than girls and could communicate well and understand without words so I wasn't worried. There are days now when I wish they would just stop talking!



answers from Las Vegas on

For some kids with a language delay, being around typical peers and copying their language and communication skills can be really helpful. This was the case for my son. As for my daughter, she didn't attend preschool but had no trouble learning to talk.

More Answers



answers from Washington DC on

I don't think so. I think that its because she has your undivided attention, you are able to predict her needs and perhaps meet them before she has to try and ask for them.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My son is 3 1/2. He has been home with me since he was born. He has never been to daycare. He has been speaking almost complete sentences since he was 15 months old. He never ever stops talking now.

I find it ridiculous for someone to say that just because you are home with her she doesn't hear as many words. Does this person think you don't talk to her, read to her??? What an odd statement. Ah....yet again the misconception that SAHM's do nothing but watch TV and do their nails.

All kids develop their speech differently at different times. I do not believe that kids who attend daycare have some type of advantage when it come to their speech development. I have friends who have had their young kids in daycare early on and if I were to compare all of our kids they are at all different levels.

Sometimes second children don't speak as quickly as the first child because the first child does all the talking for the second one.

You are right not to stress yet. It is early. If she understands what everyone is saying then that is great. She is still so young.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don't think it is daycare vs. no daycare -- none of my kids (3 of them) have been in daycare (though they started at preschool at age 3 for 3 hours a day) and they are all hyperverbal. The one thing I can say is that my second child started talking a bit late because we were all talking for her. Once we realized that and deliberately stopped and gave her the space to talk, she started talking and hasn't stopped since :-) With my third, we were aware of this and therefore made sure it wasn't an issue. It's hard sometimes to get the older talkative siblings to stop and be quiet so that the little ones can talk.


answers from Sacramento on

In my experience, it's not so much about the day care vs no day care, but just about the individual child. My oldest had a nanny until she was 2, so she really never interacted with other kids until then. She began talking at 9 months (and hasn't shut up since! lol). Her nanny talked to her all the time, sang to her, etc, and of course when we were home from work so did my husband and I. My younger daughter was in day care and her speech was slower in coming and not as clear. I blame it more on the fact that she was a binky addict than on her childcare circumstances. It's hard to talk with a binky in your mouth.

I DO think there may be something to birth order though. We talked to our oldest daughter ALL the time, and when our younger one came along, we were busier as a family, so perhaps she didn't get quite as much attention in this way as her sister had. She did eventually learn just as much in terms of vocabulary, however it did not come as quickly. But again, maybe it's just who she is and has nothing to do with birth order, daycare, etc. Hard to say.

Interesting question!



answers from Boston on

Does your oldest talk "for" your youngest? I think that if she understands what you're saying she probably has the language development to also communicate back verbally but may not need to yet. If she gets by with pointing and gestures, she doesn't have to actually say things out loud.



answers from Springfield on

It is true that many kids in day care will develop skills earlier simply because they have to. They do not have an attentive parent, they have a day care worker who is in charge of several kids. Still, what's wrong with a 14 month old only having one word? Is that unusual?

It is very common for the second born to be a late talker (although my first only babbled until 18 months and didn't know his animal sounds until 17 months).



answers from Boston on

People are strange why would the say that it's because you home with your child. Do you not interact? My son was home with me and he talked young. By this I mean had a list of words at 9 months. Every child is different try not to compare them. Ask the Dr if your concerned don't make yourself crazy. My daughter is still young, but we joke that we'll think there's somehting wrong because our son did everything early or right on time. If anything the second child gets spoken for by the first too. Just like when someone says your child's attached because your home. I think it is personality my son was a wanderer. I guess I'm just saying don't read into it too much. Good Luck!



answers from Seattle on

I don't think it makes any difference. Some kids are really verbal and others aren't. My dd was in a nannyshare (2 kids/1 nanny) until she was 2.5yo. She started talking right on time and then her language skyrocketed. She was (and is) quite verbally advanced, even after a year of preschool. (Preschool seems to have taught her more attitude-laden phrases and potty language than anything else.) FYI, the other little girl in the nanny share started chatting a bit later than average, but once she started there was no stopping her either!

I suspect some 2nd (3rd, 4th, ...) kids don't speak as much if their siblings act as interpreters. And some are more observers than talkers. I think mine will be that way.


answers from Chicago on

I don't think it has to do with daycare. Both my kids were raised by my mom (because I have worked full time). They are 8 years apart. My oldest didn't talk as well. My youngest has great speech! When I took her to her 3 year check up, the doctor told me she had the speech of a 4 year old. She has always had really good, clear speech. That was not the case with my oldest.


answers from Saginaw on

Nah...all kids just learn at different paces.

My oldest daughter always seemed to know/do more at the stages than when my daughter got to the stages. Sometimes I like to blame I didn't give her enough one on one attention. I also know its very common for the older sibling to talk for the younger one. But my youngest is now 3 and she is catching up.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I would think it would be the opposite....when you are home with them you speak to them all day long. I talked nonstop to mine-it became a habit. Even when they were not able to answer. I think it might have helped with the lonliness. Now I talk to the dog!



answers from Boston on

One of the best things about daycare is the participation they are encouraged to do. A lot of it depends on how good the teacher is and how confident your child is and on a child's personality. When I would go to pick my boy up, he would be at the front of the group answering all the teacher's questions. God bless him! ;-)


answers from Kansas City on

I can't really say about comparisons. But I can tell you that in my home daycare, the parents just about always rave about the new words they pick up when they dont start with me until they are toddlers already.



answers from Seattle on

HA! I talk almost constantly, and my son wasn't speaking more than a handful of words until well after 2 ((he was also exposed to multiple languages... which slows verbalizing, but increases their ability to verbalize -as in brains (audio cortex) of children are more fully developed... and that *has* been studied to death)). By 2.5 "The squirrels are mocking me." and "If you don't mind, do you think we could have lunch sometime soon, please?" are fairly representative of his speech at the time. As in full of adjectives, correct syntax, no lisping, etc.

Going into preschool at 3.5 actually DECREASED his verbal skills, because he began copying other kids (lisping, shorter words, fewer adjectives, shorter sentences, etc.).

But, of course, that's anecdotal (except for the multi'lingual studies in relation to hearing and speaking / the development of the audiocortex).

I'm sure SOMEONE has studied toddlers in daycare v at home... but my suspicion is that no causal relationship was found since homelife and daycares vary a TREMENDOUS amount from home to home and daycare to daycare.



answers from Chicago on

I think it has more to do with total exposure to words and other things and the individual child more so that actual daycare. None of my kids ever went to daycare but they were all talkers. My little one more so since she has 3 siblings 9 years older than she is. Sometimes I seriously wonder how old she is. A little girl at church knows all her numbers, colors, letters, etc at 2 1/2 because when it is time for homework for her brothers, she sits down and does it too. I knew a woman that never talked to her child unless he did something wrong or she wanted him to do something. He did not speak until he was almost 4. He never got spoken to so no exposure in that area. But once he got it, could not get him to stop. :) I clashed in lots of areas with that mom so we were never great friends and not sure how he is now.

And I can honestly say, it is much easier to interact with your firstborn child than the others as they come along since we moms get soooooo much busier.



answers from Burlington on

Second child! Can't help but compare, but everyone says don't :)



answers from Houston on

I don't think that argument necessarily holds water. My daughter (oldest) was never in daycare and she was speaking in full sentences by 17 months old. My son (youngest) spent the summer in full time daycare because I was going through chemo for breast cancer and, while he did start talking quite a bit more after he started there, he really didn't start talking much until just after he was 2 years old. I think if you spend time with your kids and talk to them frequently, especially reading books and such, they will learn to talk when they're ready. I haven't studied any reasearch on the subject, so I can't answer to that, but just based on my experience, I think kids talk when they are ready to talk and while daycare may help from the standpoint of hearing more kids talk, I think the same can be accomplished from an attentive parent. Just my opinion though.



answers from Hartford on

I'll bet it's just anecdotal evidence. I have three girls all under 5. The first started single words at 15 months -- we were thrilled when she could point out and say tree when she saw a Christmas tree. My second started single words at about 10 or 11 months and was linking words by 14 months (she was WAY ahead). The third started single words by about 13 months and was linking words by 16 months. All three were home with me.

I really think it just has to do with the child her/himself. Now that all three are a bit older I am noticing that my second has a much better memory and has great spacial relationship skills. She is 15 months younger than the first but is overtaking my first in puzzles and in building things like legos.

My first is no dummy either . She is able to read one and two vowel words and is starting to read the cat in the hat books easily. She has not even started kindergarten. Her abilities are just very different than my second child's.

The third, who is 21 months younger than the second speaks like she is three or four. (she is 24 months now) She falls square in the middle of the first two.


answers from Dallas on

I believe so, me and my friend have kids the same age, my kids have been in day care for a long time now, and her kids stay at home with her grandparents during the day. I dont understand NOTHING her kids say, and my kids dont either, her 3yo will talk to my 3yo, and my daughter will turn around and ask me " What did she say" and my mother never put my younger siblings in day care either, and Honestly, no BS, at 5, people stil couldnt understand them, they are in 1st grade now, and some stuff is still hard to catch on to. and they dont pronounce much right. This is just my opinion but I think so, from what I have seen.


answers from Modesto on

All kids are different, the younger one will either talk earlier because they have an older sibling to keep up with OR they will talk later because they are the baby and everyone does things for them without them having to be verbal to get it. Either way, you are correct.... she will catch up when she's good and ready.



answers from Harrisburg on

I don't think there is any hard fast rules, but daycare does help. I think it is dependent on the child's development and personality. My 1st was and still is not a talker and even though he knew tons of words early on, he never said them and daycare brought out the social aspect of him and he began to say and talk the words he knew. The younger started babbling real early, we knew he would not shut up, lol. He is already learning words I didn't teach him and he is not in daycare, but just learning from older sibling, so you're right, he will learn in time!


answers from Boston on

I'm not sure it has anything to do with not hearing words as it does with not having to use any words. They don't HAVE to talk, they don't have as many different situations in which to be forced to use them, and they don't have the repetition/participatory situations as they do in daycare or preschool where they have circle time or have music playing that they sing along with. Kids at home often have their needs anticipated by parents, and 2nd kids often have their needs anticipated better because parents are doing it with more experience and read their body language better. Be sure to put a variety of sounds in front of her - play CDs with music & words, do DVDs with finger plays or action sequences along with music, etc. A child will learn "animal sounds" faster by singing "Old McDonald had a farm" more quickly than with someone asking "What does the cow say?" - it's more fun, it's repetitive, it's musical and it helps them form sounds in a rhythm. Also read more, particularly books that encourage participation by the child. With familiar books, let the child finish the sentence for you, even if you ask, "How does the next part go?" or something like that.

I think the "it's because you are home with her" is a subtle jab at SAHMs - or maybe not-so-subtle. Not necessarily by the person who said it - they may have internalized it from other sources. For years, no one went to day care and we all learned to talk! So I think it's a bad think when working parents are pitted against stay-at-home parents.

Kids develop individually, and if they aren't working on their talking, they are developing in some other area. Your 2nd child may have motor skills (fine, gross) or other developmental advances ahead of your first one -- the talking is just what people notice. It's great that you are not worried about it! Mine didn't talk at all until 16 months, but he was ridiculously advanced in walking, running and many other areas. So, as you say, she will catch up!



answers from Boston on

I think all kids are different. There can also be a difference with second children, one bc the first child translates and two, because the parents have more experience and anticipate more so the child doesn't need to make himself known. I spoke early and my younger sister much later.

I'm a SAHM. My DD was a late talker, around 19-20 months. But once she started, she excelled very quickly, sentences came right away and her vocabulary was really large for her age. She was just saving it all up for a big development burst. It's totally anecdotal, though. I have a friend whose son was in daycare and he was a VERY late talker, like almost 3. But once he started, that was it, he was totally on target once he got going. And in that case they were waiting for Early Intervention, but hadn't had services yet when he caught up, and his dad had also been a very late talker. So that was his normal.

Unless you aren't interacting with your kid and leaving her to watch Baby Einstein all day, she is getting all the language stimulation she needs. I have to believe that my daughter heard a lot more words than she would have in day care when the teachers were talking to a whole bunch of other same-age kids all day long. I talked with her all the time in adult language, we got out in the world where other people did the same, we read books, etc. She heard plenty! So unless they think you are just sitting there all day staring at each other, it seems like a baseless argument. :)



answers from Columbus on

I haven't read your other responses yet, but don't agree. My son, who is almost 8, was diagnosed with a speech delay at 3. He was in daycare until he was 2. He has since caught up & is doing great in school. My daughter, who just turned 4, has been talking since birth-LOL. OK, not that long, but it sure feels like it. She has been talking complete sentences since around 2 or so and I've been a SAHM since before she was born. So, nope-I don't agree.



answers from Boston on

I guess I don't quite understand why a parent would talk less with a child than a caregiver in daycare. My daughter never went to daycare, she is with me 24/7, at 14 months she knew many words, too many for me to count. Now at 23 months she speaks in full, long sentences. If anything, daycare should be more detrimental to the child's speech development because they do not get a lot of one on one time with an adult in a group setting. They learn 'language' from peers who can't talk. Just talk a lot with her, it isn't a big deal. I talk to my daughter non-stop, it just comes naturally. Instead of just saying 'yes' or 'no' I talk to her like an adult and she listens, nods, responds with words - even if they don't always make sense.


answers from Houston on

No, that's stupid.

If you are reading her little books, conversing with her, playing word games and singing with her, she plays with her big sister, she is exposed to just as much language development as kids in day care.

Now, if she was watching tv all day and not really interacting with you all, then it can effect language development, but that is most likely not the case.

As for 14 months, many children are not talking yet at that age, daycare or not. Often times, children with older siblings don't talk as quickly as they have an older sibling who will talk and interpret for them, so they simply don't feel the need to start as early. Each child develops at their own pace.



answers from Sacramento on

Our oldest was behind in talking, even though I read a lot to him at home and talked to him all the time. When he started daycare at two, his speech went through the roof. HUGE changes in the first couple months. Went from a handful of words to combining words and ultimately to sentences within a few months. I think hearing other kids practice talking gave him the confidence to try. I wish we'd started him in daycare earlier, it was beneficial on so many levels.

Honestly, though, unless a child has a disability, they all talk eventually and in time for school. I wouldn't stress about it.



answers from Seattle on

The things people say..jeeze...

Well I honestly do think that it may help..but you have to remember...if you are at home with both kids...the adult-child ration is 1-2...whereas...(in my state and daycare facility) the ration can be as much as 1-7....sounds like your girls would get more social interaction with mom in my opinion.

Don't stress about your girl, but it never helps to work with her. When you are cleaning the house, cooking meals, bathing them, dressing them, whatever...speak words clearly (I've always believed that it's best for them to hear the word spoken correctly otherwise they might not learn it correctly) and point out and say the name of whatever comes to mind. It doesn't have to be a structured learning environment or anything, just make it part of everyday. Before you know it, she will be saying all sorts of things.

What I did with my kids...when they were about 15 months old...I taped a piece of paper to my fridge and started putting down any and all words they could speak if they understood what it meant, even if it wasn't say correctly. I was surprised at the amount of words they knew!

Another point, when I took my kiddos in for their 18 month checkup last week, I asked what is normal speech development for an 18 month old. They said they would expect them to speak about 7 or so words. I wouldn't worry.

Next question: Talking Benchmark - Should I Be Concerend?