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20-month-old's speech development
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20-month-old's speech development

I am a bit concerned that my otherwise perfectly healthy and happy 20-month-old daughter might be way behind in her speech development.  She says only 5-7 words right now (daddy, momma, okay, yeah, cookie) but not much else.  She sometimes babbles in "goo-goo ga-ga" language, but does not form any coherent sentences.  She knows what objects are; for instance, if we say hand me the book, or hand me Elmo, she will do so correctly.  Rather than say yes, most of the time she will bounce excitedly if asked an affirmative question.  She doesn't say no, but will put her hand up if she doesn't like something.  She will often screetch aloud in delight, and exhibits an attention-getting yell when she wants out of her crib.  She loves to watch television and gets noticeably excited when her favorite programs come on, but doesn't sing per se.  She doesn't seem overly affectionate and hasn't learned how to kiss yet.  She is shy at first with strangers, but warms up and will extend her arms to people she knows.  She has started to use pens and markers, and her fingers show dexterity (grabbing small objects, typing on a keyboard with her fingers).  She peruses through books and photo albums and will turn the pages.  She constantly carries objects around and can toss a ball.

She started to walk at 17 months after going through a very short (2 month) crawling phase.  She has a stay-at-home mom to look after her, and is an only child.

Now that you know her entire life story, am I wrong to be concerned about her vocal development?  I know children vary in their speech development, but I have read that my child should have a much larger vocabulary and be able to form sentences by her age.  I'm not worried about her physical skills, though she did seem to learn how to walk very late.
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Your daughter does display some delay in use of language, though she is still young enough that this needn't yet be a source of alarm. What I would suggest is conferring with her pediatrician and determining a point at which a Speech/Language consult would be in order. In general, I would recommend that if she does not display some increased capacity and momentum around language over the upcoming six moths that a S/L consult occur. Generally, when other aspects of development are proceeding pretty well, the area of speech & language catches up.
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How does she use the words she has?  Does she label things (not so great), say the words randomly (worse) or does she use them appropriately?  IE, when she wants a cookie does she say the word, when she wants you does she cry or call "Mama".  Also, does she share thinks with you, ie "Mama, cookie!" at the grocery store, or "Look duck" when she see's one.  In other words, does she use her words to communicate WITH people or are they just floating off into space with no intenxded target.
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Basically, she might repeat a word that we say.  The only time she "talks" on her own is when she babbles out loud or responds to a television program.  When she hears my voice, she will say "daddy".  But so far, she hasn't just blurted out words, she needs provocation for her to "speak".
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My son was a bit speech delayed at that age too.  He hardly and any words and would ask for stuff by pointing and whining or grunting and cried often and acted out because he couldn't communicate what he wanted.  But shorly after he turned 2 he exploded with words.  He's a week shy of 31 months now and is using sentances and has a "normal" vocabulary now.  He does make up words for ones he can't say yet, eg. yougurt he calls "o-ing".  I would take her to a speech specialist to have her evaluated and see what they say, this is what I did with my boy and he was labled as a "possible speech delay" and we are on a waiting list to see a speech pathologist.

anita
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If you choose to have Early Intervention observe your child, check to see if there is an age limit in your state for these services. Also, does your insurance pay for speech therapy? Many do.
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I have a 22 month old who also does not speak in sentences. I thought he was late to babble and now says about 10  words momma, dad, nanna, (for bannana or grandma) duck, blue (although this is not very clear), babba, stuck. He can however carry a tune really well - he hums Beethoven or Mozart very distinguishably.
I have been told that because he is so agile physically, he was really concentrating on establishing movement rather than speech. I am still thinking of getting him evaluated if he doesn't connect words by his 2nd birthday
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I am a speech/language pathologist and I think it is good that you are aware of your daughter's speech and language skills.  I specialize in early intervention cases (ages 18 mos. - 3 yrs.), and I wanted to lend my expertise and experience to you.  I don't know if you've had her evaluated as of yet.  I am new to this forum and have just this late date read your post.  In any case, here goes.  
There is cause for concern at 18 months if a child displays: a lack of communicative gestures, doesn't attempt to imitate or spontaneously produce single words to convey meaning, doesn't persist in communication (e.g. hands object to adult but then gives up if adult doesn't respond immediately), has a limited comprehension vocabulary (understands <50 words or phrases w/out gesture or context clues), has a limited production vocabulary (speaks <10 words), and has a lack of grouth in production vocabulary over 6 month period form 12-18 mos.
Typically first seen from 18-24 mos. is: using mostly words to communicate, beginning to use two-word combos, later combos (by 24 mos) code relational meanings such as "more cookie", "daddy shoe", and the combos are more flexible in use, by 24 mos. child will typically have at least 50 words and they can be approximations of adult form.
Hope this helps.
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