Parenting a late talker can be stressful, tiring, and have you questioning what you’re doing wrong.
But don’t worry! Know that speech delay is common in children and doesn’t necessarily have to be a cause for concern.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about parenting a late talker – including lots of tips to encourage your child’s language development.
There is a wide range of what’s considered “normal” in speech development for children. And though suspicion of having a late talker can lead to immense panic, fear not, around 15%-25% of children have a communication disorder.
Babies start to babble from around as young as 6 months old using a variety, if not all, of the consonant sounds. If a baby is not babbling at all or is very limited in their sounds, this could indicate that there is a speech delay.
Generally, children that speak fewer than 10 words by 20 months or fewer than 50 words by 30 might be labeled as ‘late-talkers’. But this doesn’t indicate disaster! Being aware of the signs of speech-delay means that you can intervene quickly and help your child to reach the same level as their peers with as little stress as possible.
Speech delay can also be present in a lack of understanding of given instructions. By 3 years old, a child would normally be able to follow 2-3 step instructions, recognize common images, and be understood by all those who are close to him/her.
Tips for parenting late-talkers
- Talk your child through what you’re doing, as you’re doing it. If they’re watching you prepare food, point out everything that you’re doing by voicing it. For example, you might say “Look, I’m opening the cupboard and taking out …”.
- Try not to overwhelm your child with complex sentences, use a few more words than they are able to use in their own sentences but no more than that.
- It’s never too early to start reading to your baby! Your baby was born loving the sound of your voice and will be able to better understand and use vocabulary when read to often. When they’re very small and uninterested in the pictures, you can simply read your own book out loud.
- Sing everything! Babies and children respond wonderfully to music and will learn new words as well as feel a strong connection with you.
- Consider speech therapy, something that we will unpack a little more below.
After establishing that your child can hear properly – with a hearing test – you might want to visit someone who specializes in child speech therapy.
These specialists will be able to measure your child’s language skills through tests in expression and repetition.
Following a diagnosis, a speech therapist will continue to work with both the child and the family to encourage speech and provide exercises that can be done at home.