Late Talkers/Late Bloomers: What Parents Need to Know

(and When to Consider Speech Therapy)

Is your child not speaking as much or as clearly as his or her peers? After observing interactions with cousins at a family function, classmates in the music group, or peers on the playground, many of the parents that are bringing their child in for a speech therapy evaluation ask a few key questions.

  • What should my child be understanding and saying at this point?
  • How many words should he/she have? 
  • When should they start communicating using phrases/short sentences?
  • My child is talking, but I am not understanding what they are saying.  

Listed below are some significant speech and language milestones. This chart will guide you to see whether your child is developing typically, or if services from a speech and language pathologist might be warranted.

Kids Speech & Language “Late Bloomer” Milestones

The following may indicate an issue.

Birth-3 months Not smiling or playing with others.
4-7 months Not babbling.
7-12 months Making only a few sounds, not using gestures like waving, pointing or imitating others.
7 months - 2 years Not understanding what others are saying.
12-18 months Saying only a few words.
18 months - 2 years Not putting two words together.
2 years Saying fewer than 50 words. The child should be about 50% intelligible to familiar and unfamiliar listeners.
2-3 years Having trouble playing and talking with other children. The child should be about 75% intelligible to familiar and unfamiliar listeners.

One key takeaway is this: early treatment for speech and language skills is always best. Within a few sessions, many parents report more words and less frustration/tantrums.

The Pediatric Therapy Center of NJ located in Cedar Grove evaluates children between the ages of 16 months and 2 ½ years for speech and language skills. Contact Deanna M. Jannicelli Corby, MS, CCC-SLP for a speech and language evaluation.