My 15 Month Old Will Not Talk

Updated on November 08, 2008
T.H. asks from Beverly Hills, CA
42 answers

Hi Mommies! I am having a problem with my 15 month old...I guess it isn't really a problem but more of an issue. She will not talk. The only thing she says is dad & that is it. She doesn't even attempt to say anything else. This is strange for us b/c our oldest was talking at 1. I understand that every kid is different but isn't this a little late to not be talking? She knows how to sign for "more" when she is hungry & "drink". How do I encourage her to try to talk?

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S.G.

answers from St. Louis on

T. when my son was 2 years old I was asking the same question. He said only 3 words, at 2 and a half I was really worried but I was told to be patient with him. One day I picked him up and he said a complete sentence. I want down. He never stopped talking after that, nonstop. I think for him it was just a matter of not having a need to do it. His life was prety good. It was only when he wanted something and had to ask for it that he said the sentence. Now, that is really late for a child to talk.

15 months is really not that late. Every child is different. If she is signing and getting what she wants, that means she does not have to verbalize it either. You know her better than anyone, if you can get her to ask for something by saying the word before you give it to her, that would be great. If it frustrates her, just be patient. Some day you will write a message wanting to know how to make her be quiet.

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H.H.

answers from Kansas City on

I wouldn't worry too much until she is 2 years old. some kids talk early and others don't. One of mine was very intelligent in many things, like building things with legos, matching colors, but he didn't talk but about 3 or 4 words until he was 2 1/2 but he could do puzzles very well and other things and was very smart before he started Kindergarten. He was reading at 4 and by Kindergarten was reading 5th grade level, knew all his letters and how to write most of them by age 2 1/2 but just didn't talk much but if I asked him where the letter was he would point to it and could write a lot of them. He loved puzzles and by age 3 was doing 100 piece puzzles with no problem at all. He is 16, a junior in high school taking very tough classes like college algebra, trigonometry, honors chemistry 2, honors english, spanish 2, and other classes. He does well and plans to go to medical school and be a doctor. Academics has always been easy for him, he isn't into sports much but hoping he will get some scholarships for his academics.
Just letting you know that some kids are very intelligent in areas that you don't know because they aren't talking yet but when she does start talking she probably won't be quiet and then you will miss that quiet time you had for those few years.

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M.L.

answers from St. Louis on

I agree with the mom asking on hearing tested. It is worth a try,even though you think she can hear she may not hear well enough to form the words.

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B.R.

answers from Kansas City on

My son is two. He just turned two and is just now starting to try out his words. Before he just grunted and pointed and his sister (3 yrs) would translate for him. I never really thought much of it but when he was about to turn two we started to get concerned. One day we noticed that his sister does ALL his talking. he even looks to her to speak for him! For about a couple of weeks we have been making a concerted effort to not let him get away with one word (his favorites: more, daddy, mommy, meow,and baby). He is doing GREAT! I think he just needed some time to keep observing the talking before he felt comfortable speaking and he needed his sister to stop translating for him and we needed to force him to use his words. I think your daughter will be fine considering she understands the concept of language. Sometimes the second baby just has no reason to talk. And, it is about two that the lightbulb goes off and they start to connect words and they become chatter boxes. That is what I have noticed anyway. I work with small children (six and under) all day long and they seem to follow that general pattern. Most 15 month olds aren't spouting too much yet. I hope that sets your mind at ease.

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K.S.

answers from Kansas City on

Do more signs. I watch a set of 20 month olds (twins) who barely talk. They say mama and dada and by-by. The more I work signs with them, the more they are talking. In a few weeks after starting the signing they now say shoe, more, ball, dog etc.... Signing does not delay talking it is simply a added way to encourage communication. I would suggest these video's called Signing Time. They are great. But, you have time 15 mo. is still young. Does she jibber jabber at all?

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L.K.

answers from Kansas City on

Hi T.,

This may sound like and old lady thing (OK, I am 46 and my babies are 14 and 18). . .but even before that I remember my mom telling the story how my little brother didn't talk for a long time. Of course that was befoe the days of signing but she said that he and I had this communication thing worked out even at that young age and I did everything for him and he didn't have to talk.
I also wish the baby sign language would have been in vogue when my kids were young. But I wonder, and this is pure speculation, is that why talk and learn words when you have a sign for it? I know you say the words with the signs, but it's much easier to sign and get a response than learn the phonics. Just a thought.

Good Luck,

Lori K

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J.L.

answers from Kansas City on

Have you had her hearing tested? What does your pediatrician say about her lack of speech? My oldest daughter wasn't saying much at 15 months old, but now she won't be quiet! She's almost 20 years old now. I thought it wasn't too much of a concern until about age 2, but I don't know what the current way of thinking is.

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C.S.

answers from Kansas City on

Our parents as teachers educator told me that they encourage teaching sign when children aren't communicating. Sounds like you've already taught her a little bit. She said that once they learn the value of communication they begin to use their words and sign the things they can't yet say. I used the Signing Times videos, which are available at the library. There are several of them and my daughter loves them. Even though she is speaking quite a bit now she still loves to watch them and sign. Hope that helps.

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M.P.

answers from St. Louis on

Good morning! It looks like you are getting alot of good advice! My son didn't really talk until he was about 3 1/2 years old. My daughter (3 years older) would let everyone know what he wanted (and I knew what all of the little grunts meant too).:) The thing that helped him start talking was I had to go to work for a little bit at a daycare and he was able to go for free while I worked, so he had to talk then. Since then, we have not been able to keep him quiet! :) Just be patient with your little one and she will start talking in her timing. God Bless!

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J.B.

answers from Kansas City on

Every child talks at different times. When my son was almost two I sat down with his daycare teacher pr a parent teacher confrence and she told me she was going to address his lack of speech but he suddenly started saying "excuse me" and "please" and "thank you" all of a sudden. He is now almost nine and in the gifted program at his school. My daughter is ths same way. All the other kids were talking when she wasn't. She is two this month and just suddenly she putting together two word sentenced. You should always encourage verbal skills by talking to her, asking her questions even though she won't answer. I would tell her to say please but I wouldn't keep her from having something because she didn't say please. She will be very frustrated. But she is listening and soon she will be repeating everything you say.

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L.L.

answers from St. Louis on

Hi T., My son went through this when he was younger too. He had a speech and language delay. We went to Cardnal Glennon for testing and treatment. He's fine now, but we went through that for 5-6 years. Talk to your Ped about it.

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E.Y.

answers from Topeka on

I hear that this is common in second children. My son still doesn't have very many words and he's 21 months, but the few he does have he's already forming into 3 and 4 word sentences. Some kids just don't have a lot of words and then all of a sudden start using sentences like my son. If you are really worried, consult with your pediatrician or see if they have developmental testing in your area (it's usually free). Good luck and try not to worry too much... every child develops and his or her own speed.

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K.W.

answers from Kansas City on

Don't panic. My son wasn't talking at all at that age, either. Really, not even saying mommy or daddy. Now, at 26 months, he is using pretty much full sentences. He knows all of his colors and shapes and body parts. He knows when to use subject ("I" or "she") vs. object ("me" or "her") pronouns. He even understands subtleties in language such as "great" means "more than good." It can just start coming all at once. Good luck.

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L.B.

answers from Kansas City on

Good morning, T.! Has your daughter's hearing ever been checked? I have known a few children personally and professionally as an Occupational Therapist, that were experiencing delays with verbal skills and it was just because they weren't able to hear well.

Best wishes........L.

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C.G.

answers from St. Louis on

My son (second child) was 2 1/2 before he started talking. He's 5 1/2 now, and hasn't stopped since!!! :)

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J.H.

answers from St. Louis on

I had 2 that didn't talk... 1 needed speech therapy and 1 just didn't want to talk. THE MOST IMPORTANT thing is to get her ears checked!!! If her hearing is ok, thats the most important thing. My oldest daughter had to have tubes twice and her adenoids and tonsils removed. She had chronic ear problems which we could have possibly avoided had we known she was allergic to our cats. Our other daughter we have had evaluated because she is 18 months and only has one word. but when evaluated all her other tests were fine and she only had a 25% delay which is not bad, so we just keep working with her. We have a program here in town that will evaluate for free, and I highly recomend at least talking with a speech therapist because at the very least, they can give you great tips on what to do to help you work better with your child(they have a lot of really simple thing that I never thought of). But again, the most important thing is to check out the ears FIRST... good luck, I have been there so many times!! If you need any more help, my e-mail is [email protected]____.com
I just really know how you feel and I want to help if I can. Good Luck!

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L.W.

answers from St. Louis on

T., I would not worry too much about it. The second child is usually slew to talk because the older one does all the talking for the younger one. My son just turned 2 and the dr. told me that as long as he says about 24 words it is ok. My son says Dad, please, Cindy, mom, neigh (for what a horse says), no and up. They are not worried about him yet only because he is starting to add a new word a week. Also they would have been worried about his hearing because of how few words he does say but I told them that he can be asleep and I open or close certain doors in my house and he is awake. If he even thinks that I am leaving when he is asleep he gets out of bed right away. I would not be too concerned yet.
L.

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K.G.

answers from Kansas City on

It may be nothing to worry about, but I think it's good to be on top of in just in case. My son (1st born) was 18 mos and only making a few sounds, no real words. I was referred by Parents As Teachers to Johnson County Infant Toddlers Svs, although I don't think you have to be referred. They offer a full speech and language evaluation, and if the child qualifies for services (which mine did), you have a speech therapist come to your house for service. Services are free. My son received their speech services until age three, at which time they refer you to your school district for services. My son is still on an IEP for speech and language in the 1st grade. He is nearly caught up and shouldn't be needing services much longer. At 18 mos, my pediatrician and others said not to worry until age 2 or 3. I'm glad I didn't wait, wonder how far delayed he'd be had we not started services. My son has no other delays, no hearing issues and is a very healthy little boy, and the speech therapists say they don't know why some have delays and others don't. My second son has had no speech delays, and I didn't nothing differently for him! I highly recommend both Parent's as Teachers and JoCo Infant Toddler Services. Good Luck!

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M.L.

answers from Wichita on

Is she more physically advanced with walking, climbing etc? Parents as Teachers told us, and we noticed it with our last child but when they are learning a "new skill" which could include walking, they either stop or delay talking...... Just a thought.

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T.M.

answers from Kansas City on

I agree that hearing should be number one. Always the Parents as Teachers can help with testing (contact your local school district), my grandson was able to attend preschool free because he was hard to understand, they helped greatly!
Finally I had a cousin who didn't talk until she was three, then it was complete sentences! She is now in her 20's, she was somewhat shy, but very, very smart. College grad, very high ACT scores, 4.0 grades. So I wouldn't worry sometimes the smarter ones know when to stay quiet and learn. I'm impressed that she signs, maybe she doesn't see the need to speak yet!

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S.L.

answers from Joplin on

I have two girls, 12 and 8. My 12 year old was saying her ABC's by the time she was 1 1/2, could hold adult conversations with us and was just one of us. My youngest daughter on the other hand, was very reserved, didn't speak complete sentences until she was three, just didn't care about talking to us. We thought that our oldest was a genious and youngest was going to be simple. Were we wrong! Once the youngest got in school she blossomed so fast! Both of our girls are A students and have some awesome talents, different talents. But our youngest, in third grade, can read as well as our sixth grader, is the wittiest thing I've ever seen, and is the perfect student, a perfectionist really. Maybe that's why she didn't talk when she was young, wanted to wait until she had it exactly right. So don't worry. Also, I have a 14 month old neice that says da and horse and that's it. But she is functioning completely normal in all other areas and a perfectly happy child. They really are just all different.

D.H.

answers from Kansas City on

My youngest was like that too. Her big sister who is 14 months older did all her talking for her. Eventually she found her voice. I wouldn't worry to much. A lot of times when an older sibling who isn't much older than the next one in line, will talk for them. It will come. Good luck and God Bless.

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K.B.

answers from Wichita on

Good Morning T., I have a question. Does your older child tell you what your little one wants or says? Our youngest son (32) refused to talk also. He was 2 before he finally did talk. His older brother always talked for him. I had to tell him he couldn't help like that anymore. Travis had to talk for himself. Travis would point and grunt or squeal and Drew would tell me what he wanted.

I love sign language and i taught our grand children several signs when they are little. Our 3 1/2 yo gr son is very good at sign. Baby Einstein "Talking Hands" is great teach tool also. Says the words and signs them.

But if your oldest child helps your little one, talk to them and just let them know they are a great helper doing a great job, but baby needs to learn to ask and say words on their own now.

God Bless you
K. Nana of 5

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S.T.

answers from St. Louis on

Good morning, T.. I agree with the other posters, I don't think you need to be too concerned just yet. My first son (now 15yrs) and my 4th son (18 months) were late bloomers compared to the two in the middle, but I think that the2 middle ones learned from their older sibling(s) and wanted to be "big kids" right away. My last little one though hasn't made much effort to speak or do as much for himself because he is truly the "baby" of the family. He gets by with "uh-huh" and "un-huh" most of the time because everyone else speaks for him or plays 20 questions until we get the "uh-huh" from him. lol We try to be patient and encourage him to talk, but with 4 kids, we're usually in a hurry and choose to guess what he wants. At 15 months, he was only saying mama, dada, gaga (grandma), and a version of the dog's name, but in the past 2 months, his vocab has really jumped. He's saying his brothers' and sister's names, juice, ball, move, please and some other random words. We used baby sign too and he still uses that if we're not understanding him. We praise him when he tries to talk and I will ask him to talk when he wants something instead of just grunting and pointing. Sometimes it comes out like complete jibber jabber but other times he surprises himself and can actually say what he wants. When you take your daughter for her 18 month checkup, your dr should give you a checklist of milestones that will include about how many words they should have in their vocabulary and how many words they should understand. As long as you think she is understanding what you're telling her, then I wouldn't worry too much about the speaking part yet. It will come when she's ready.

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R.C.

answers from Kansas City on

Hi T.

I'm kind of in the same boat as you, I have a 24 month old that only says Mama and Dada so I have gotten him signed up through First Steps to get Speech Therapy. If you have Parents as Teachers come into your house they should be able to help you get connected with First Steps, if not you can find them online and contact them yourself, they send a person out to test them and see if they will qualify for their services. If this doesn't work out for you, my best advice is just to keep talking and reading to her and start with the basics like animal sounds. Hope this helps and good luck!

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K.S.

answers from Kansas City on

We had the exact same issue. I didn't think much of it except it was noted to be an issue by our teacher from Parents as Teachers. After eval my son had a speech pathologist come to our house weekly from Johnson County Infants and Toddlers. They visited him at daycare when he was there. All this was free and my son loved the play-based therapy and special attention. He just turned four and now talks my ears off. He is still in speech class but now through our elementary school. I am so glad I went forward with treatment because I really think he otherwise would have been behind. Try your local school district for a parents as teachers eval or just call Johnson County Infants and Toddlers. If you can't find them send me a note and I'll dig out the numbers. Good luck.

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S.W.

answers from St. Louis on

First of all does the 3 year old talk for her? This is pretty commen in 2nd children, they don't talk because they don't have to. Either the older sib talks for them or when the older one ask "mom can I have a cookie" and you say yes and give him/her a cookie you give the younder one a cookie to, and they never had to. First of all have her checked out to rule out problems and then if there are no problems just sit back and wait for her to decide to talk. I've known several people with this same problem and their kids started really talking after 2 years and a couple when they were almost 3, but when they started talking it was in full sentences. My own 2nd child was like that. My first started talking at 6 months and was always way ahead of the other kids in talking (and still talks a lot and all the time) and my younger one did hardly talk at all until she was almost 2. Yours will get there too. Good luck!

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J.F.

answers from Kansas City on

First, have you had her hearing tested? It is a good sign that she says Dad though. In order for her to be motivated to talk she needs to understand that she will not get what she wants til she says it. Encourage her in a positive way when she signs more for hungry say "say more"or "say hungry". Wait until she tries. Praise her when she tries. Be persistent, say "when you say more I will give it to you". It may be hard at first, but if you give her things when she only signs it, you're reinforcing her behavior of encouraging her not to talk. Do you have Parents as Teachers in your area? I know they are in Missouri but not sure about Kansas. It may be called another name. You can find out by calling your local school board or elementary school. They are an excellent resource for every parent. They begin visiting your home at 2 months old to give parents on ideas to encourage proper development & also to do developmental testing. It is meant for all children & is such a wonderful program to prepare children for kindgergarten readiness. They also will have many ideas on encouragement & also resources for speech therapy if they determine your child needs it. Good luck

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K.S.

answers from Kansas City on

T., I would just try talking to her more. We talk to our son all the time. He's two and he talks quite a bit. We started talking to him when he was a baby. We would ask him questions that we knew he couldn't answer and talk to him about things we knew he didn't understand, hoping that we were teaching him how to talk. Kids learn by watching so the more they watch you talk to them, then usually they will try to say things. Also, she is only 15 months, so I wouldn't worry too much about this. Good luck!!

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S.H.

answers from St. Louis on

15 months is not late, maybe not even delayed at this point. Usually the benchmark is age two. What does Parents as First Teacher say/has she been screened?

That said, I agree with the other Moms, older children tend to do the talking for the younger ones. I also believe that in some cases, signing can actually delay speech. Controversial words, I know. Which is "why" I phrased this as "in some cases"........I truly do believe that signing is beneficial to most children.

Sooo, my recommendation would be to encourage her to speak at every turn..."cup, cup of milk" "diaper, time for diaper" etc. By actively naming each item/activity... time & time again, most children begin parroting your own words. "Please" & "thank you" fall in this category, too! Good Luck.

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S.M.

answers from Kansas City on

don't worry about it. my son only said about 3 words until he was 2 and then slowly started adding more words. We were concerned too and the doctor said if he doesn't say more than a few words at 2 1/2 then we will send him to have hearing checked and stuff like that. So don't worry she will talk when she is good and ready. and on a side note, my son is 4 1/2 and he NEVER stops talking. :) so be careful what you wish for heehee. He even talks himself to sleep at night. Enjoy the peace and quiet while you can. Hope that helps.

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S.S.

answers from Wichita on

Well you are going to have to make her so to speak. When she wants something quit accepting the signs and make her say the words of what she wants....or at least try to. Offer her something and when she reaches for it have her say the word.

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M.G.

answers from Lawrence on

I've heard that kids that learn sign language sometimes take a little longer to start talking.

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A.M.

answers from Kansas City on

T.,
I would encourage you to speak with your pediatrician, just to make sure there is no underlying cause.

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S.B.

answers from Kansas City on

I don't know what county you are in, but here is the website for Infant and Toddler Services in Johnson County. They can probably direct you to where you should go. http://www.itsjc.org/

I had my son tested at 14 months because i felt something was wrong despite everyone telling me not to worry but I felt he didn't have a grasp on communication. He didn't qualify then and i felt a little embarassed to have made such a fuss, but at 26 months I had him tested again and he was very behind, so I wish I would have had him tested every 6 months like they recommended.

They'll give you information to have her hearing tested for free as part of the evaluation.

My son also likes the special attention and sessions and it is no cost to you.

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C.G.

answers from St. Louis on

You are right, all children are different. I assume you have already checked her hearing. Since you are concerned,just to be cautious I would have your child evaluated for language delays. If your school district has a Parents as Teachers or First Steps program contact them about having your child evaluated. She may be still too young, but it is worth a try. Start by contacting your school district and they should be able to direct you as to who can do this evaluation. If there are language delays suspected, the earlier the intervention, the better! Fox C-6's Early Childhood Special Education program helps 3 to 5 year olds with all special needs including speech or language delays. It is a wonderful program with caring teachers and speech therapists. Good Luck, I hope this helps.

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S.D.

answers from Topeka on

I have a 21 month old daughter and we have Parents as teachers come out monthly at her last monthly visit and at her I want to say 12-15 home vistit she asked how many words my daughter can say well I have kept track of them and now she is saying more that I lose track of.But she did mention that at this age she should be able to say 50 words and to encourage her wants and needs by having my daughter ask for them I usually say what she may want and she corrects me with what she wants and have her reapeat after me and that has helped.When she uses jibber I will hel[p her make a sentence out of it because I know what she is trying to say to encourage her development in language.

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N.F.

answers from St. Louis on

Hi T.,

You did not say if your daughter has had any issues with ear infections or if you have had her hearing tested. She really could have some hearing issues - I have a nephew that never had ear infections as a child, but when tested it was found there are certain "pitches" he can not hear. Unfortunately many of them were within the "vocal ranges". If you haven't already you might ask your Dr. about a hearing test. If you get the same old all children are different story and you feel there could be more to it, stand your ground and make him/her check it out.

That being said I am the mother of three grown daughters, but I remember clearly when our youngest was little - she didn't HAVE to talk! All she had to do was point at something and like magic if would appear! After identifying the issue it was rather easy to get her to start talking - when she pointed to something we would tell her what it was and it would not magically appear unless she at least tried to say it! I think I said the phrase "use your words" in my sleep!

Also if you have ever thought of teaching your children a "second language", now would be a wonderful time to teach them to sign....children have a natural ability to sign and it is a great "second" language to know!

Good luck!

N.

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C.W.

answers from Kansas City on

Get in contact with your school district's early education program and ask them for help. My middle son went through speech therapy with ours and the only thing it cost me was my time to take him. BUT was well worth it!

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K.J.

answers from St. Louis on

Our 19 month old still isn't talking either. He says a few words, but that is it. We have a friend with a son a month younger that has an older sibling and he isn't saying much either. It just depends on the kid. He seems to understand a lot of words, but just doesn't speak. I wouldn't worry to much, she'll talk when she's ready.

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S.T.

answers from Kansas City on

My daughter is 22 months old and still says maybe 4 words. She does speech therapy and we are now doing Parents as Teachers with her. I'm going to take her to an ent to check her ears cause the research I've done has leaned towards ear issues. No she hasn't had any ear infections but they don't have to they can have allergies and still have fluid build up back there to where everything sounds like they are underwater. Good Luck I know what you are going through.S.

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K.H.

answers from St. Louis on

I agree..in my 28 years of taking care of children and having three of my own children..they all learn and talk on their own time..please be patient and I think you will be amazed at how one day she will start talking and never be quiet....also a good idea to have her tested with a ENT if things do not change in a few months..

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