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Speech Delays In Toddlers

Hearing your child's first words is a magical moment that will stay with parents forever. Most toddlers will grow up chatting away and driving their parents up the wall. However some children just don’t make the transition between incoherent babbling and real words.

It is estimated that between 5-8% of toddlers have some form of toddler speech delay, but spotting the delay can often be difficult as babies and toddlers develop at their own rate.

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When you think about it, language is a very difficult concept to grasp. Your toddler must first hear what is said and be able to comprehend this. They then have to decide what they want to say back, while trying to control their breathing, facial muscles, tones and expression. It’s a lot to think about for someone so small.

For tips and advice on helping your toddler talk and for help with speech delays in toddlers, have a look at how to improve toddlers speech.

Remember: Having a toddler with speech delays or problems does not mean they will have it forever.

The earlier the treatment, the more likely that your child will overcome their speech delay and lead a normal healthy life.

Speech delays in your toddler

Speech delays in toddlers come in many different shapes and sizes. They can range from a simple issue to something that will take years for your child to over come.

Speech problems in toddlers can be something common such as a stutter or can range to children who can understand what is said to them but cannot form a verbal response.

It is however, very important to help your child overcome toddler speech delays as research has shown that children with speech delays often perform poorly at school and can find social situations more difficult.

Causes of speech delay in your toddler

Family history is a big influence in toddler’s speech delays, as is developmental delays. Major illnesses or repeat ear and throat infections can also play a big part in your toddler’s speech development.

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Testing your toddler for speech problems

Your family doctor can assess your toddler’s speech delays.

There are many tests and scales that your toddler may be measured against to gauge their development. Your doctor will ask you questions about how your toddler is at home as this is likely to give clues as to if there is a problem.

If your doctor thinks there may be a problem, they will most likely refer you to a team of specialists.

More often than not, the first test your toddler will go through is a hearing test. One of the most common causes of speech delay in toddlers is that your toddler cannot hear the world around them properly.

How to recognise speech delays in your toddler

  • Speech development of 3-9 months old

Your baby should be showing signs of social skill development.
By 6 months, your baby should be babbling and by 9 months your baby should be babbling with the use of consonants.

  • Speech development of 12-18 months

This is the time when you will have the magical moment of hearing your child's first words.

Your child should also recognise their own name and respond to it when called.

If you ask your child for a toy, they should have the physical skill of being able to hand it to you (although they may not always be willing to surrender their toy to you).

Your child should be able to make sentences of nonsensical babble as this paves the way for real speech as their facial muscles develop.

  • Speech developoment of 18-24 months

Your toddler should know a number of simple words and be able to make two word sentences. For example “up please” and put their arms up if they want a cuddle.

Your toddler should also be able to copy movements and gestures you make and your toddler should be able to follow simple commends such as putting their coat on or taking it off.

  • Speech development of 24-36 months

Your toddler’s language skills should have developed enough by now that they will start to ask (one of every parents favourite word) “why”. Parents other favourite word “no” also comes around this stage of development.

Your toddler will be more interested in picture books and naming things in the book and you will also see this in the real world.

Speech delays in your child

If your toddler is behind in any of these steps, it is important to get them assessed straight away. Early recognition of problems and delays in toddlers is critical as they are easier to solve while your child is young.

Remember: Having a child with speech delays or problems does not mean they will be like that forever. The earlier the treatment, the more likely that your child will overcome their speech delay and lead a normal healthy life.