Why Isn’t My Little Boy Talking?

I entitled this “little boy” because sociologically, moms worry more about their boys’ language development than their girls. It is 100% true that girls generally learn language faster than boys. Girls biologically mature faster than boys too, so it is normal for the average three year old girl’s vocabulary to be on par with a five-year old boy. It isn’t gender bias, it’s just part of development.

That doesn’t mean all boys will be late talkers or all girls will be early ones. It just means that on the whole, language takes longer and may need more support for boys rather than for girls.  In our family, we have had an array of language experiences and early bloomers blossom the most between 20 and 30-months while late bloomers learn more between 30 and 40-months. If by 4 years old, your little boy has not caught up to other boys his age, that is a red flag. You shouldn’t wait that long if you are concerned (because the earlier the intervention, the better), but if I had peace about the boy’s development, I might wait up until that point to make a clear judgment. All children are different and so much can happen even within a couple months that it sometimes pays to wait. Boys especially grow between 3-5yrs old. This is probably why kindergarten begins after age 5, and real schoolwork begins at 6.

Because of charts and pressure, though, too many moms are worried that their boys aren’t speaking in sentences at 3 years old. They hear a friend’s child talking on the playground and get worried because their little boy only says “hi” and “bye” and “no.” But lots of boys are just beginning their language progression at age 3, especially if they are the oldest or only child. Not having other children paving the way is important because little boys don’t come out already knowing that they are supposed to be imitating their parents. They may not even imitate the TV or one another. Whereas little girls are more likely to model and mimic, little boys can be more in their own worlds, relying on revelation that comes from within. They take their own time to process and learn things, usually sequentially, analytically, and in the order that they feel they need. Girls’ language usually develops much more holistically, haphazardly, and practically.

We think little boys are just like little girls and of course need high verbal skills; we look at them anxiously, waiting for them to come but many little boys are blissfully unaware and seem perfectly content on their own timetable. For whatever reason, the little learner isn’t sensing the verbal need as urgently as the parent =).   My oldest boy, who was late in learning language, was (and still is) more preoccupied with what he’s doing or thinking about. At 7 yrs now, I have quizzed him and found out that he remembers all kinds of things he did when he was 3yrs, and how he felt about it at the time, but he didn’t start talking about anything meaningfully until he was past 4yrs old. So his little thinker was very much on at 3, but not expressive or communicating yet.

I have also observed my three little boys playing together for almost five years now, and I see that they basically force themselves into each other’s worlds by competing for legos, playdoh, or whatever.  Their interaction style is very parallel (independent) but very intrusive.  (My girl’s, however, is very dependent on me, interactive, and careful.)  The boys are extremely chatty now, but sometimes talk past one another and don’t listen carefully to what each other is saying. And they do this on almost a constant basis, all day, every day, even past bedtime hours (they share a room). So that’s probably why my third little boy had no trouble picking up language as soon as he was able to play with them as a toddler. But there is no way, as a mommy, that you can model this peering, intervening, competing dynamic with your child.  Your mommy thing is much likely more gentle, direct, and occasional. So if you have a three year old boy, who is the oldest but he’s not talking, don’t be surprised.

(Just FYI, all my boys have this interaction style, even though they are all very different and none of them is the stereotypical aggressive, gun-and-cowboy kind of boy.  I am not trying to overstereotype here, or derive their learning style from their personality/socialization.)

Here’s another case in point: one of my friends is French and her husband is Greek-American. The mother speaks only French to her little boy, and the father speaks English. This little boy was typically developing in all areas except language, and as he neared the 3-year old mark he didn’t even speak much French although the mother prattled to him all day in it. About a month before he turned 3, he suddenly began speaking in French phrases. But he had only a couple English words like names of animals. Within about two months, he had French sentences and some English phrases. Now as he nears the 4-year mark, he is almost fully fluent in both languages. His vocabulary seems lower than my three and four year old’s, but he is on the whole a better communicator. His cognition skills are slightly higher as well in term of concepts like before/after, yesterday/tomorrow, etc. He even talked with me about his mommy being pregnant, having the new baby, and nursing it. Even though my 4-year old witnessed three siblings arrive in our own family, he never seemed to notice any of it, including how big I was: he certainly never talked about it. So this is a plug for all the bilingual mothers out there.

This is not to overgeneralize about boys and language. It is just to provide some perspective that experts aren’t really providing. My now 4 year old was a late talker, my 3 year old was about average, and my 2 year old was extremely early… and they are all boys! Moreover, my latest talker learned his ABCs and first words the earliest! And my earliest talker spoke his first words and learned his ABCs the latest. So it is really hard to generalize about language things. It really takes some discernment and guidance from your “gut.”

So why isn’t your little boy talking? What does your gut say? Do you have any idea? You have a couple options: either he is fine but taking his time to talk (like my third boy); or he is fine but has language delays (like my first boy); or he is not fine and there is something really wrong. I have several posts on language development where I discuss these options, but to recap an important principle: it is not how much your child is talking by a certain age, but whether or not he is making progress. Like I mentioned, my youngest boy actually started his first words the latest of my four kids (17 months), but spoke in complete sentences the earliest (19 months). A kid in my child’s therapy started his first intelligible words very late (23 months) but is now speaking amazingly in sentences after only four or five months of speech therapy. My oldest boy started his first words earliest (11 months) but ended up having a pretty severe language delay through the toddler and preschool years. So don’t get concerned by age of onset. Look more for progress.

So is he developing in other areas ok? Do you see progress in his verbal development every three months or so? Does he seem stalled in an area? Or are you expecting things too early? Too fast? Is the child a firstborn with little modeling? Is the child the baby of the family with little need to talk? All these types of questions are important pieces of the puzzle. I find, as I said in the beginning, that most moms worry about their boys just a little too early. While some boys are prattling by two years old, some are barely putting two words together. By 36 months, however, most late bloomers are at least on the road to becoming communicative. They should have made some progress between the ages of 2 and 3, and lots of progress between 3 and 3.5, even if they aren’t communicating as well as the typical 3-year old girl. If by 40-42 months your late bloomer is not talking pretty “normally” (i.e. able to dialogue with you about appropriate things, able to understand most of your words), then there is probably a delay or perhaps a language disorder. He/She may not have full sentences, but the phrases and responses should be there.

Also, try to take a long term perspective. When your kids are young, everything they do is under a microscope. It seems like every little “d” or “t” they mess up is a big problem. But most kids even out more after the 4th birthday. A delayed child can take until 5- or 6-years old to catch up. But in the long run, make sure it really matters to you. Assuming that you are only dealing with delays rather than a congenital problem (like Asperger’s), does it make a difference, on the whole, if he takes longer to mature or are you ok with him being a little less mature for awhile? I am not saying to ignore problems. I am just asking if there are factors that are making you feel more impatient or worried than must be objectively warranted. After all, your child is who he is. You have to deal with it one way or another, so there’s no use putting extra pressure as if that would make something change by magic.

Remember that there are thousands of moms worrying just like you. I have had three boys myself, in three years, and watched my friends have about half a dozen baby boys in the last couple years. I have walked down the language disorder and special preschool path. So I know moms worry too much about language. On one hand, language problems are some of the most concerning problems a small child can have because verbal, cognitive, and social/emotional development are intricately tied together. Sometimes language problems are isolated, but sometimes they indicate other more serious problems. So I would publicly recommend erring on the side of too much caution rather than on too little. But on the other hand, do realize that probably every first mom, especially with boys, is worried about their language development and more often than not, finds out that there was absolutely no problem. So don’t panic until there is something to panic about.

(I have several posts on Language Development for real signs, symptoms of language disorders.)

87 thoughts on “Why Isn’t My Little Boy Talking?

  1. Hi, I have a little boy who just turned three, Jan 11th. And he isnt speaking in sentances. Like he understands everything I say. I can tell him to go put something in the “dirty basket” or “go sit down” or to even “wait”. But Im starting to worry about his own language skills. But Im sure sure I should be. Like he can tell me, Im sorry, I love you, I dont know or I know, or I want more. But most of his language is just one word. I will admitt he doesnt hang around alot of kids, and I am thinking maybe that is it. I just need come advice I guess! HELP!

  2. I’m in almost the exact same boat. My little boy turned 3 on Jan 9 and does not speak in full sentences unless prompted first. He asks for what he wants in on or two word phrases, and then completes the sentence when I start it for him (I prompt using “I… and he fills in “I want milk please.” He understands what is said to him, although I don’t think he fully grasps the concept of answering a question, and he has a good vocabulary; he just doesn’t seem to put the words together much. My son is an only child, and doesn’t get a whole lot of time with other kids either, and I’m beginning to worry, although my husband is not concerned. Should I get him checked or wait for that 40 month mark and see where he’s at? He’s thriving in other areas. He counts past 20 when he wants, and his spatial skills are great. I’m just concerned about his language development and wondering if there’s something I can do to help him. Thanks!

  3. Speaking in sentences can take quite awhile. There is no need to get worked up if your three year old boy is not talking in sentences. It is more upsetting if he can’t understand what you say, or if when he speaks (words, short phrases) no-one can understand him.

  4. My grandson will be 3 years old this September and I’ve been worried sick about his inability to talk. He says a few words and one sentence, where’d it go. after reading your article apparently this is normal for a boy. At what time should I really get worried. He does not attend day care and is not around other children, I felt that if he had been in a child environment he might be speaking more. I can not get him to focus with me long enough to learn a lot but I can tell he’s smart in other skills. Need insight.

  5. Pingback: Late Talking Boys « Octopus Mom

  6. Thank you so much for posting this about little boys not talking. I have a 26 month old boy and was concerned he was really talking yet. It makes me feel better knowing that this is common in young boys and it takes them a little more time. He is seeming to grow in other areas and seems to just be taking hi time with talking. He let’s us know when he wants something, just not with words yet.
    So again, Thank You 🙂

  7. Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I have 3 boys. My oldest, now 4, knew his alphabet by 18 months. He was speaking fluent sentences before age 2, and by 3, he knew all of the letter sounds by sight and sound and so started learning to read. At 4, he is at a grade 1/2 reading level. My second was born prematurely (30 weeks) and is 30 months actual age. He has just begun putting more than one word together and expanding his vocabulary. I will keep an eye on how his language develops over the next little while, but this post has reassured me that he is probably progressing just fine!

  8. thanks for the information on little boys. I have a 28 months old boy who is not keen to talk. He just say a word which he will not repeat for the next couple of weeks. i try to make him repeat words after me but he instead luaghs a lot. Its good to know that boys can be a bit slower than girls in development of speech.

  9. I have a 41 month old grand son. I dont see him steadily, but when I do I notice he can not pronounce words, he seems to know what he wants to say and seems frustrated he can not communicate. Be does not count or read. I do not think my daughter reads to him. She spends a lot of time alone with him and his day care is not consistent. Any suggestions please.

  10. Hi there. I have a lot of other posts on my blog about language development, if you want to check them out. My oldest son was a lot like your grandson. It took him until almost five years old to communicate really. He had a receptive language problem.

    It sounds like your grandson might have more of an expressive language problem, or perhaps both. Usually the two go together, but one is often more pronounced than the other. If you can figure out which end needs more help (the expressive or the receptive), usually both get healed with time. If your little guy has more trouble understanding what is said to him (i.e. he can’t follow directions) then it is probably better to work on receptive language first. If your guy can follow directions but just can’t get out what he wants to say, or there is noticeable speech problems but he thinks he is talking fine, then it is probably better to work on expressive language first.

    Reading to a child with receptive language problems does not necessarily help. They need different speech therapy tactics before they can be helped by the extra vocab. It will help an expressive problem, although not overnight.

    Since he is over three years old, probably the best thing for your grandson is to be professionally evaluated by your local public preschool. It’s free and takes one afternoon. The other alternative is to get him private therapy, which many insurance plans cover and you just have the co-pay. A normal therapist session is once a week for 30-60 mins. But it’s not worth doing both of these things since either is sufficient. If your little guy has other cognitive or social problems, preschool is probably the best option. If he’s well adjusted and thriving but just having speech issues, then the private therapy is worth looking into. (Ask your pediatrician for a referral).

    let me know if you’d like more information.

    Best, Jaime

  11. HI i dont know if any of ur mum can help me but i want some idears on how i can try and get my 3 and half lil girl talking i worried for her hen she gose to school
    please help me

  12. hi was reading your article , i have twin boys who turned 4 on aug 22, the elde boys is talking like afour year should , but the one minute younger son is not taliking he says only fews words no , bye see u come come on anna, amma,some time he repeats the words with me but when askedc to do it again he will not pls advise really worried

  13. Hi, I have a bilingual 19 month old. I speak only in english with him and his father only in portuguese. He understands both but isn’t speaking one nor the other. I mean, he says mama, dada, papa(food), baba(bottle), no, things like that, and the part of the french/english boy really helped…i know it’s gonna happen at his own time, so i’m glad to know that there are other bilingual mommies out there with the same worries…it’s just gonna be really cool when he starts speaking both! yay

  14. Thank goodness for a sane voice in this confusing world of speech development! My “gut” tells me that my 30-month old son is just fine, but it is increasingly difficult to stay positive, when I see other kids surpassing him. I will try harder to quit worrying!

  15. Hi! This post is great. Calms me down a little. I have twin boys, 26 months. Their first words were around 17 months or so. Now they have about 35-50 words but no 2 words phrases. Amazingly (like your oldest son) they both learned their alphabet at 22 months and can count to 20 and know all their colors and shapes. Their articulation is pretty poor but i can tell what they are saying. I am concerned about their 2 word phrases. It seems like they are having trouble immitating me. If I say “more cookie” they come out with “ah cookie”. If I say “more” and then “cookie” they can say both words independently. But saying them together gets warped and the fist word gets shortened to “ah”. Is this normal for language development? Will they one day just “get it” and start putting 2 words together? They see an SLP 1x a week and she hasn’t mentioned disorder. just delay.

    How is your 4 yo doing now? Did his language issues impact him in school? Do you think he is all caught up? Will these language issues plague us for the rest of their lives? i guess I feel like we will always be struggling 😦

    Thanks for your input!


  16. I also have a 26 month old boy who is not phrasing. We just started speech therapy. If I say, “up stairs” He’ll say “up up”. He will imitate/repeat everything I say, but not in phrases, separately. I have an extremely early talking, articulate daughter, now 6, so didn’t really know what to compare him to so I had him evaluated by EI at 19 months, they called him developmentally delayed and have had me worried SICK for months now, I thought this was not applicable to my son who is advanced is all other areas. My pediatrician did not agree with this “diagnosis” who then referred me to an OT specializing in Sensory Processing Disorder. She also did not agree and seems he only needed speech therapy, which is where we are at, she does not seem to think he is that delayed at all??? Not keen on the idea of EI now and wish I NEVER would have called, at least in this case…caused me a lot of worry!

  17. hello i have a 34 month old boy and he is not speaking full sentences yet. he understands everything that is said or asked for him to do.he says atleast60 words or more but does not know how to put them together yet.he does not like to drink milk or eat much. is there something wrong?

  18. i have a 3 and a half year old grand daughter that does not speak at all. not HI BYE NO ….nothing not a word. she seems to be understanding everything and follows commands but she has absolutley no speach at all. shye often makes odd noises and laughs and cries so we know there is nothing wrong with her vocal cords. her peditrician says shes just “slow” but, im concerned as she is close to four years old and not saying anything at all. not even mama. should i be concerned or trust what the peditrician says?

  19. Our boy is 27 months old and is not speaking. We had him evaluated at 25 months with the early intervention group and they said he has a speech delay. He goes thru therapy 2 times per week and they showed us alot of things that we can do also. I have seen progress with his eye contact and sometimes he vocalizes sounds when he wants something but still is not talking. This website has eased some of my worries, I we hope to see more progress this summer. The main thing is to remain patient and keep him engaged as much as possible.

  20. Hello, I have a three year old boy. We came to USA some years before but our son is born here means we have two language at home. He is not making any sentences yet he knows about 80- 90 words mostly in english he is been home with me since he was born never been in daycare. Two month before he is been evaluated by pathologist and now he is in special class but i am really worried about him and i feel like i am not doing enough to help him and really worried he may have autism. I never heard this word before i came to this country children to talk late is very normal in my country that is my reason not to take him for evaluation in addition to my fear.I see some of the symptoms in addition to not making any sentences like toe walking, doesn’t respond for his name but he loves to play with other kids please i really need help i don’t know what to do give me advise please if u know a history like me or something it will help a lot. because of he is not making sentences, walking toe or something does this means he is autistic? I will wait your answer Thanks.

  21. My little brother is now 6 years old and he dosent talk at all. Some kids can say little words but he wont say any words. It has been bothering me since he was 2. He have had several appointments but they keep saying the same thing and keep giving him more appointments. He acts like a normal child he play well but he just ont talk.

  22. This seems to be a very hot topic 🙂 My son is 25 months and can not say any words. He is easily frustrated, has frequent tantrums, and makes no attempt to talk. He is very good at communicating with body language (most of the time) it is incredibly frustrating. I believe he is a very intelligent boy and is developing normally in all other aspects. He is the oldest child (I have a one year old daughter too) and I’m worried about him! I enrolled him in preschool, but am worried that will only frustrate him more!

  23. hi there

    my son will be 3 in November and also isn’t talking. We have had him evaluated by a child psychiatrist who advised that he is not Autistic but noticed that he has week muscles in his mouth. We have also had his hearing checked and it is also fine. We just cannot understand that he does not speak and are so tired of the questions as to why is he not talking. he was also 10 weeks premature. he understands everything we say to him and points alot. he is just not verbal. please advise what we can do. We are thinking of taking him to a speech therapist very soon.

  24. Hi, My Son will be 4 next year february and still not talking. He say a few words like Oh oh, Eye, when I say cow, or I show him a cow, he will say moo….. He did not call me Mummy yet….. I’m so worried for him. I teach him almost everyday, when I tell him this is a red block tahn he will just say block, but the sound is not clear. I brought him to see a doctor, Doctor say maybe he is hyperactive but I don’t see him as a hyperactive child, I do notice that his concentration span is very little. He like s to do things he own way. I feel is more to behaviour problem. I just started to sent him to kindergarten school. Hope this will change. He is my only son and is a ex-preemies baby also. Please, I need your advice desparately. I’m so worried .

  25. Hi,
    My first and only baby will be turning 2 years old in a month. I have noticed that other kids are talking more than him. He only says about 4 words, but understands everything like directions etc. It also bothers me that he doesn’t respond to his name. I contacted the regional center for help. They seem to think he might have autism. He laughs has good eye contact plays with toys appropriately, and doesnt shake his hands or twirl. Any help you can give me would be appreciated.

  26. I have a son that is 3 and half years old, he was first reffered to the speech therapist when he was 28 months. At the time he was only pointing signify that he wants something.

    He started pre-school at the age of 3 and since then he has made progress and now talking in phrases(eg I want rice, i want noodles, i want wee wee, I want poo poo etc, he has recently started adding dad/mum i want………

    My concern is that he has been recently diagnised with Autistic Spectrum Disorder(ASD) by the peaditritian a month ago because there has been a report that my little boy plays along other kids rather than play with them (meanwhile he plays with his little sister at home infact the are always together), doesn’t give eye contact, gets distracted easily.

    I really feel like he’s been labeled, dont get me wrong I know is language and communication skills is not where its should be for his age but I strongly belief he is only delayed and not autistic as diagnosed.

    Is there anyone out there that has experienced this sort of thing……….

  27. I feel better now having read this article, I searched on this matter about 3 months ago, and that was comforting as well. My “slow talker” will be 28 months old February 12th 2011. He is very smart, he understands everything you say, so I know his hearing is fine and his little brain is working. He can put 2-3 words together but that’s it. He told me once on the phone, “I want to go down”, (he was talking about going up and down the stairs at his great-grandma’s house),I was so happy! I couldn’t believe my ears!! Mostly, he speaks baby jibberish. He is very smart, sweet, willful, and I guess he’s on his time table – not mine or his parents. He is my grandson and I have him and his 4 year old sister (she speaks VERY well), 2-3 times a month, on the weekends, to spend the night, each visit they have grown developmentally by leaps and bounds. Amen.

  28. My son just turned 3 and is not talking. He will be visiting a padiatric neurologist in a month. He has received a year of speech therapy which has not helped. I am a teacher and worked in special education for 5 years and do not see that he has many of the characteristics of autism. He plays along side his 4 year old brother, can point to all his colors, shapes, and alphabet letters. He uses the computer very well for a 3 year old playing games, listening to music, typing his abc’s, etc. He does rock when he watches television and has difficulty when in crowded spaces like restaurants or doctors offices. But the more he is exposed to these environments the better he reacts. His reaction is not wanting to stay in his seat, but isn’t this common for 3 year olds? I am past worry and ready for some answers. We’ve visited with an ENT, he can hear. He did mention my son was a bit tongue tied, but that was not causing the delay. Did I mention he understands what we tell him? His receptive language seems fine. I am so glad I found this site and see that others can relate.

  29. My son is 27 months old and say about 30 words, no two-sentenced words yet. He has been in speech therapy for just a couple of months and the only progress he gets is when I work with him. They say he doesn’t have good eye contact but i think it is because he doesnt know them. He always looks me in my eyes. He is doing extremely well in all other categories, but speech is just slower. he babbles alot and points. He can tell me what he want (juice, cup, etc.) I just want to know if there is any chance he will be speaking sentences before age 3. Pleeeasseee Help!!!

  30. Hi I also have a boy who until now does not talk the only clear word he can say is “Papa” nothing more, but he can really understand and follow any 2 or more commands we ask him, He can laugh with tv shows and interact with us gracefully. he is currently 30months and he is not around with other children, do you think sending him to daycare and interact with other children will stimulate him or disciurage him more because he will find out that boys his age should talk. He has a DiGeorge Syndrome as well with the hypocalcemia symptoms, he’s been checked and done speech but he does not develop.. need help and answer thnks

  31. Hi,Reading the comments posted here brings so much comfort to me. My son is 44 months and is not saying much. he has been tested and confirmedthat he can hear. He is now playing well with his siblings since he started attending our local public preschool where he has speech therapy. He had a big problem with eating too and was very picky. Now his choices of food have broadened, he is also begining to do a few personal things for himself like taking his clothes off. I have noticed that he is spelling quite a lot of words on his little electronic toys- vulture, school,elephant, cow, frog, juggle to name a few. he can noespell at least 26 words on this little toy all without saying a word… To say that i am concerned is an understatement. he plays well, with good eye contact, laughs,enjoys his limited TV shows. Just wish I knew what to do for him. His 20 month old little sister is speaking now and older brother 5yrs old is reading at 6th grade level and math at 5th grade (he was tested by our local school last week)….. just looking for how to help my baby boy speak!!!!! I can tell he is frustrated.


  33. Hi,

    Just found this article and it has made interesting reading. I have a 6 year old girl that was so advanced that people always assume she was a lot older. I now have a 36 month old boy and he is struggling with his speaking. He understands what I tell him and does say a selection of limited words, he is trying to make sentences if I prompt him e.g. on the phone however you can maybe pick out a few key words but the rest of his sentence is jumbled up and makes no sense. I understand that he might just be taking his time however when at nursery around children that are talking he is always playing on his own, I wonder if this is because he can’t communicate with them through speech? Would this be ground to seek some help as he is clearly trying but like I said you can’t understand him. Thanks

  34. My son is turning 3 next month. He doesn’t say any words but is very vocal as if he is trying. He understands a lot of what we say and loves to play and socialize. He has seen a speech therapist who is now referring him to a neurologist. He is our first child and never really got to interact with other children until he was 30 months old (daycare), I have seen improvement since he started going. It’s hard sometimes picking him up after work and seeing other kids younger than him talking in sentences. But he communicates a lot none verbally and knows how to get what he wants. ex: taking me by the hand and walking me to what he wants.

  35. My son is 34 months old. he understands everything i tell him, like come here, sleep sit down, bring that cup, but unfortunately he cannot tell me anything. sometimes i can see him struggling to talk but nothing makes sense. like if he need a ball near you he say some funny sounds pointing at the ball and even opt to get it himself. i started to worry of his skill to speak. is there anything to worry please am concerned kindly help me

  36. hi all, my son is 4yrs old on 20th oct n he is having problem with his speech. when he was 2 yrs old. he calls me daddd n say words like flowers, trains, birds, cars n aeroplanne but now after 3 he is not saying words but only train when he sees the train. i have checked with my GP for hearing test when he was 3 and the half years old, result came out good. last week i went to my GP again and now he is sending my boy to speacilist hearing test again. don’t know what is going on? pls advise me what to do next, will be very thankful.

  37. My boy hasn’t started to talk yet and he is 26months already… I just sent him to school in hoping that seeing other children talking he will start also.. His teacher told me not to ruSh but the pressure that I’m facing is just too much.. He practically just screams and cries and I really wish that he would just tell me what he wants rather than screaming into my face… He is my first child and was the only child until my 2nd baby a girl just came along… I’m so worried that I’m also giving him pressure….. I’m just feel so lost. Can u guide me?

  38. Thank you for this article!
    I have a 34 month old boy, only child. He started with a few words normally, around 12 months, then stalled out. At 28 months my mother in law had convinced me there was something wrong, since he doesn’t repeat words and his language will progress some then he’ll regress for a bit. I called my countys developmental services and they came out and tested him. They found he he scored normal to above normal in every area but language. They ruled out any autism, aspergers, or apraxia. They recommend speech therapy but its only covered by the county at three years, and we had bad insurance at the time so we would have to pay out of pocket. I decided to bring my findings to his doctor and she said she believes he is normal for his age, that many boys are severely delayed passed the age of three. And she recommended waiting until he was at least three until we even think about taking steps towards the speech therapy direction. He now turns three in two months. He’s progressive a little but he’s in a regressing state at the moment. Its odd. Its like during the time he almost quits talking, he’s studying, then one morning he wakes up and starts talking where he left off but better. He currently has about 15 words, 1 phrase, and 2 three words sentences. I’ve been starting to worry a little again since out friends daughter is six weeks younger and can sing songs, carry on full conversations, and just generally talk extremely well. I know i shouldn’t but its hard not to compare them since they are so close in age. I keep hearing stories of boys who suddenly start talking in full sentences one day, I’m still holding out that will happen.

  39. It’s nice to read this although I’m still worried!! My son is 25 months and I’ve put him into nursery school for 9 hours a week to try to mix with other children and hopefully bring on his speech. He doesn’t say anything other than mumma and dadda although I’m not convinced he actually knows who we are! He regularly calls me dadda but then I’m sure if he’s trying to say ‘ta’ when giving me something (he started saying da when giving people things confusion when should be said when taking something). Anyway I think he has a good understanding and using pointing a sounds when he wants something. If he wants food/drink he points to his tounge and goes ‘uh uh uh’.
    He has a very bad tamper too and scratches a lot which I try to punish with time out (have tried to gently do it back but it doesn’t bother him at all). I’m just really worried about ADHD and alike?

  40. My son is 3.5 years and when he was 27 months old I put him in nursery as I was worried about his speech delay at that time, after 9 hrs a week for almost a year now he is not as fluent as other kids his age though he has improved in the past month. We are bilingual and this was spotted as the reason for his speech delay by 2 speech pathologists we had seen when he was 34 months. I need guidance from parents of similar experiences to help my child with his speech, what kind of other classes could I take him to? How do I work with him to make him talk? I try and organize playtime with his friends after nursery hours at least 2 times a week. Please help me……..

  41. my 3 year old son is still not speaking.he only hums,make baby sound,follow some instructions, points out or cry 4 things what he need,play properly with his toys, know 2 drink water by himself but not know to eat .we r dieing 2 know when he will start speaking [potty,mom,dad e.t.c] or making words or repeat words after me . when i was pragnent i was suffring from thyriod .

  42. Hi I need help, my son also only child is 3 years old, and not talking yet, execpt juice food please, I am really corncern I cried my eyes out today thinkinf is it my fault. Somethin happend at birth is my child autistic, he understands evwerything you say an do as you say build blocks play with his trucks immitate the ads on tv knws his Abc’s ,sings nursery rhimes but just dnt talk he jiberishes a lot, please help I am going out od my mind is this normal HELP! pregnancy?

  43. I am also a first time. Mom and my son just turned 3 in March 12,an is not talking yet, he points or takes u to what he wants bt says the basic words like thnk u , no, juice please, food nw,water ,bye bye, knws his Abc,builds blocks ect, but stil talk a a lot of jibirish he is not in a play group yet, can you please help hw do I distinguish between delayed and normal development I have cried my eyes in search of an answer then I came to this post please reply in help of a mommy thk u

    Cape town

  44. My son is almost 30 months and says very little words. He talks a lot but you can’t understand it. He is great taking your hand and putting it on what he wants or pointing and it and nodding. So he can communicate non verbally to get what he wants. He is currently learning in two languages, English and Icelandic but only heard English up until he was 22 months. He says bye bye, hi, please, dada, momma, takk (which is Icelandic for thank you) and baby. He understand a good amount but not as much as other kids in his class. He has a very hard time paying attention, a very hard time! He will play with something for a while but then will be all over the place and wont sit still. He is very loving and affectionate. Other than the not talking he doesn’t show any of the signs for autism. He has had a lot of progress since starting school which is wonderful and we have a specialist that is just starting to observe him to figure out a plan of action and what the issue might be. My gut is he is just delayed but I am afraid to find out how much and so worried this will be an issue to follow him through out life.

  45. My son will be 4 in sept and doesn’t talk much at all..I can get him to repeat what I say and he understands when I tell him to do something..I have tried speech which was a waste..I can tell him his name and turn around and ask him what’s his name and he repeats what’s your name….I see other kids talking and it just worries me alot…I have tired my baby can read and he does real good with it …just want answer me in a sentences and points to alot of what he wants…:-(

  46. Dear Mummies…
    I am really glad I have found this site.. I have a 40 mths old boy.. 3.5 yrs… he dont call us mama or papa.. he enjoys movenment, nursery rhymes, alphabets, can sing few songs… not accurate.. he always pull our hand to get what he wants… he simply do not say… few mths ago.. when I ask him what is this (orange) he will look into my eyes & said “orange”… I was happy & respond ” Yes.. Orange..
    from there, everyday after & till now… I will ask him again whenever he wants an orange… He simply dont say it anymore… he can spell many words… some he understood.. from educational program… he can spell his own name.. he always whines for what he wants.. frustarated at times…which makes me feel tiring & taxing… difficult to communicate with him.. he has a elder brother which is 5 yrs old this year… he is progressing good. He started to speak more when he is age 3 & non-stop now… he can point when he is 2.5 yrs… So now the younger one… which worried me… have started to bring him to speech therapist since 22 March 2012 & also have doctor review 03 Aug 2012… he is like one word by one word.. alot more to say… I really hope he doesnt fall into the autisim catergory… which need to go for early intervention program. When he is age 2, even worse… he simply dont respond to us when we call him.. He went for his hearing test.. both passed.. Now… I really see some progress… when I call him, he will turn around & look at me.. few weeks back… he look at me & say shhee shee ” pass urine” & he start to pass urine… I WAS HAPPY, it was like his first word to me (he looked into my eyes) but after that whenever he want to pass urine, he simply dont say it, still.. he pull my hand & aid him inside the toilet… trying very hard just to communicate with him… even just at least look at me again & say shee shee”” … & bring me to toilet….
    Whatever it is…. I stopped working 1 mth ago…. hope to give him whatever I can… really dont wish it is too late…. monetary is not important anymore… his life & everything is important….

  47. Dear Parents…

    Just wanted to say….. keep our fingers cross… I believe faith in my child… and in every child… going to put extra effort in him, going the extra mile… to practice more patience… seeking professional advise in the meanwhile… still no matter what happens, Mummy is here… always here…. ; )

  48. Hi every one, we have a near 5 years old son, he dosen’t have a good memory and can’t talk more then few words which i would say about (45-54) words, he cant make sentensess at all. when i ask him to repeat a word like School he says Lochoo. please we need your help. we are parents, very worried, sorry for my poor english. Sajid

  49. Thank you for ur story and you are just right on target abt first time mothers’ worry.

  50. My son will be 3 yr next month and he started going to school since he was 2 yrs. He has good vocabulary and still not able to make sentences. Full day he is talking in his own language. He is very good in repetitions. He sings nursery rhymes and he know ABC’s and can count till 15. If i say him to repeat the sentence after me he is able to do but never make his own sentences and uses single words preferable.He has one elder sister who is a big chatter box. He was getting speech therapy also but didn’t help much. Please suggest what to do.

  51. Hi I  am a mother of a 27 month old baby boy who is still not talking in sentences. I have been recently referred by his doc for early intervention and is waiting on the results. My son has been on time with all milestones infect he reads 100+ words and with meaning knows them says them when asked but not yet sentences he knows ABC and 1-20 in both English and Bengali we were actually more worried about his wobbly walking but his physical Eval was fine but now they are saying he needs speech therapy. He does have tendency to tip toe when excited and spin around and flap his hands and leg. But he loves to give hugs and kisses and is very cooperative about clothing him etc. But the early intervention people have scared me about these habits as they mimic autism my gut says he is fine but they are suppose to be experts so my
    Mom head is lost. your blog brought some comfort and thanks for giving moms like us a little more insight on boys which I would have appreciated coming from those so called experts they led a one sided look and left me helpless and worried without pointing out the other side of the story. Thanks again and I look forward to reading more of ur blog on the topic and other.  

  52. My son is 25 months now and seaking very little,he says the odd words when he wants some thing like “juice” or “nana”..he hasnt started putting two words together as of yet.The only words he will put together is if your saying goodbye he will say bye bye mama or bye bye dadda and thats it! Reading these other posts have reassured me a little and to not put too much pressure on myself and my son!
    It just seems frustrating when other children his age are putting words together and his cousin which is 3 months younger than him can count to 10! (its a she) and she is deffinatly alot more devloped speech wise.
    If i dont see any improvement over the next month r so im going to get a second opinion! He was born with a tounge tie which they said he would grow out of so my concern is this maybe affecting his speech also? Does anybody else have a child who was born with a tounge tie and did it affect their speech? Many thanks.

  53. Oh thank-you thank-you thank-you!!! This was an answer to prayer today – I was SO fretting about my 13mo old’s language abilities…(even though I know it’s early)….my husband and I are speaking Spanish/English to him…so you made me feel so much better and like I can bear through the next few months until he starts to pick it up.

  54. I wish some of you would come back and give an update on how your kids are doing!
    I have a 25 month old son who isn’t speaking much. He says ‘dada’, juice, yes/no, up/down, and makes a lot of sounds (animal, vehicles), he follows directions well (even sits calmly in time out!), makes good eye contact, can point to a ton of body parts, answers yes/no questions appropriately, and is overall a pretty good and affectionate toddler. He’s been on track for all other milestones, though he was born 3 weeks early. He points and will bring me to things he needs. We had EI come out and evaluate him and they said he’s speaking at a 14 month level. The Mommy in me is worried sick but the logical side and my gut are telling me he’s just a slow talker. He qualifies for an hour of speech therapy a week, and I’m hopeful that it’ll help. This article was helpful, and it’s comforting to know that a lot of folks are in the same boat I am. I am putting this in my ‘favorites’ and will update!

  55. Hi my 30 month old son cant even say any word. He only drags you to what he wants and he plays alot. he has been in pre nursery for close to a year now, but still he doesnt talk. pls help advise me.

  56. We have had his hearing tested and it came out fine. He understands most of the things we tell him but finds it difficult to communite verbally.

  57. Our 3 year old son sings a lot, but does very little talking. He points whenever he wants something. He mimics a lot of what happens on tv, can reproduce some of the sounds in the kiddies programme. He can do the vowels and can count. His mother is very worried though that he is unable to string sentences together.

  58. Our son at 3.5 years only has a dozen words or so he can regularly use, he can (with some slur) copy many word when prompted, he doesn’t string two words together (unless he thinks it’s one word, like ‘oh no’), won’t potty train (screams the house down if you try and get him on the toilet), often has epic tantrums when he doesn’g get his own way, often tantrums if his routine is altered, is incredibly fussy with food and it’s a miracle he’s out of that baby food jars which he would only eat one brand and two flavours of until about 2 years or so old no matter how hungry he was and even now mainly lives on toast, beans and whichever type of meat he’s in the mood for that month.

    I would worry but there’s no point, worrying won’t change anything so I’m somewhat resigned, he has a speech and language therapist and he should be start some early intervention sometime soon, I just hope he’s out of nappies and talking before he starts school…

  59. Thank you lord for this post! My son is 22 1/2 months and does not speak yet. He started speech therapy about a month ago and only has a few words. Mostly animal sounds such as “roar” for a lion “ba ba” for a sheep and “ball” for a ball. He does not say mommy or daddy and we just start working about a week ago on pointing and touching our nose and eyes but he does not do it independently, only hand over hand. He laughs when I laugh and he has great eye contact and seems as if he is very aware. Hes an awesone kid with lots of energy. When he wants milk he opens the fridge and grabs my hand for help but I tell him you need to say milk cause mommy doesn’t understand what you want and I do this for about 15 long min after prompting him and still no words except him nodding his head no. Of course after 15 minutes of crying i give it to him. We also speak 2 languages in the house. I am about to put him in a daycare so he can be exposed to other children his age. This is my story and this new world if autism and easy diagnosis is freaking me out!!!!!

  60. my son will be 3 next month, he says baba , dada, mama, cheese, quack, moo and few other random words. he was early with all his milestones. he is very intelligent, potty trained at 19months, learned how to unlock and fully use an ipad on his own at 12 months. alot of people are surprised he doesn’t speak. he knows what he wants and either does it himself or directs me to do it with gestures. he will hand me a cup and say baba for milk or drag me to the fridge try to open it and i’ll say milk for 15 minutes then give in to his crying. he understands almost everything i tell him, throw this away, go bring this to daddy, lets take a bath, put on your shoes, etc . he has been babbling more than he usually does trying to talk and i can feel his words coming soon, so after reading this post i’m less worried.

  61. My oldest son, who is just about to turn 3, doesn’t talk in full sentences. While he does repeat words fine and can name a lot of household items (along with mum and dad), I do sometimes question his development. I am definitely going to wait another year before fully stressing though!! 🙂 thanks

  62. Boy, just turned 4, positives: coordination, potty trained, sense humor, affectionately/ family, others, knows alphabet (upper & lowercase), recognizes #’s, counts to 100, writes letters, numbers, many words, spells many words, obeys. Began swimming on & under water @ 2 years, very adept at ” working/ playing video gamesNegative: speaks words, very short sentences clearly, otherwise always babbles like a 1-2 year old. Refers to himself as “Jack”, never “me” or “I. Understands but doesn’t answer, although often will do it, lines up blocks w/ letters, #’s on them ( each MUST be lined perfectly in every way or he will become frustrated & correct it), Will rarely acknowledge/ respond when I call his name. Others cannot understand his words or ,sentences(often I can’t either), no conversation ( acts out entire animated story by himself, needs no audience, using expressive gesturing, but complete unintelligible babble). Only child, lives split days in week w/ mom & dad, enjoys playing alone and w/ others

  63. I have a 3 years old grandson and i am very concern about him not speaking on babbles…When i tell him to take his time & slow down and speak so i can try and understand what he is asking for.
    He is doing good with potty training i ask him every 30 mins to go to the pot.
    He understands me when i talk to him but when you tell him to put the toys up he gets upset and starts to screaming.

    Can anyone help me to understand what it is that i need to do to help him…..

  64. You are an amazing person! I really want to thank you for your postings. My little boy is a late talker and reading your posts gave me hope. Everything you mentioned regarding guidelines etc has proven to be true for us. He is now 35 months and catching up!!! He still has some delays in his speech but the growth in the past 6 months has been amazing.

  65. I am a Speech-Language Pathologist and made a video about this topic. It is not necessarily the number of words your child says that is the big issue (although all the developmental norms do give cut-offs and suggestions…enough to freak out most parents) I have made a video about some of the other skills SLPs look for when trying to determine if a child will catch up or if intervention may be needed. Some children do catch up just fine and many don’t. It is really hard to compare one child to another, based purely on comparing age and number of words spoken. I find that most parents focus on those two factors only. Watch my video to see what other factors are important to look at.

  66. Thank you so much. I’ve been going crazy on googling wondering if something was wrong with my son, or was it us the parents that didn’t do enough. My son is 27 months and hardly has words. he knows hi/bye, here. if you tell him to sit or stop it he understands. he is an only child but has been to nursery school 3 days a week for a few months now. we’ve just recently engaged a speech therapist so we will see how that goes. 2 of my nephews bubbled until 4ish. I was/am worried because when you try and make him say the word e.g “say water” he will get upset/look down. I think he just isn’t ready.
    anyway you post has helped a mama calm down, get off Google and get back to work 🙂

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  69. we started speech therapy this week. they pointed out that his weakness is eye contact so we are working on that. he does look at your face long enough to see how the lips move, but will repeat words just from hearing. from the 30minute therapy he learnt to say please, well he said “weee” so now we are putting whatever he wants closer to our faces so he looks at us and says wee/please

  70. my son is 5 years but he doesn’t speak much, he can’t start a conversation, he can’t write, draw, colourish and he can’t hold a pencil n scissor, im so worried about him, please help me.

  71. I think what you published made a ton of sense. But, what about
    this? what if you were to create a killer post title?
    I ain’t suggesting your content isn’t solid., however suppose you added a post title
    that makes people desire more? I mean Why Isn’t My Little Boy Talking?
    | Life With Little Children is a little boring.

    You should look at Yahoo’s front page and note how they create post headlines to grab
    viewers interested. You might add a video or a picture or two to grab readers interested
    about what you’ve written. Just my opinion, it could make your posts a little bit more interesting.

  72. @sdf, as a mum with a talker taker this post caught my eye just fine. I personally wouldnt change it

    @zama manzini I would recommend that you take your son to his pediatrician first then get a referral because talking late is one thing but not being able to color or hold a pencil at 5 could be a sign of something that if diagnosed early you could overcome. (not to worried about drawing, writing or cutting which I think kids grasp at different stages but the other things Im worried about @ 5), please go and see your doctor. early intervention is always best

  73. My son is 5years old.He had his 1st words at 10 months, his abc by 21 months, colours and basic shapes by 2.5years but has ended up with severe delay in language. He can follow instructions in our mother tongue and can reply to very basic things although his sentences are not more than 3-4 words and can sing nursery rhymes in English and reply to very few basic English questions like name ,age, name of school etc, autism. …has been ruled out and his thyroid has been checked. ..eeg came back fine….his hearing test was fine…we can’t have conversation with him….I have been sick and tired with worry. ….please advise

  74. My nephew is 7 years old and he doesn’t talk at all. He just makes sounds. He gets frustrated easily and throws tantrums. This worries me because there’s no schools in my village that cater for children like him

  75. Hi Parents,

    My son turns 3 next month and has just recently started babbling with some words like mama, baba, car. He knows up to 60 different words but uses them occasionally. He has just recently started imitating but that too inconsistently. He understands basic instructions from us. Loves to play, is social and cheerful. What is worrying me to death is that he does not say sentences or repeat words when I ask him to. He is not conversational by any means. He has been getting speech therapy for 3 months on and off now. Zero improvement. His speech therapist has ruled out Autism and needs more time with him on a consistent basis to ascertain if its apraxia. I am very worried would be an understatement as I have panic attacks now. I have him going to a preschool and daycare as well so he mingles with the kids there and picks up words. His eye contact is good and and response to his name is there as well. I can’t wait for that day when he starts stringing words together. Please please help with any advice.

  76. Hi, I never updated, and I got notified about a new comment today.
    I had posted back in 2013 when my son was 2 and barely talking. We did a full year of Speech therapy and I honestly saw very little progress. He was frustrated and it just did not go well. I was worried sick. We gave him a break when he turned 3 And aged out of early intervention. That was Nov 2013. Then the holidays came and went and I wanna say when he was 3y4m he finally made progress on his own. 3 1/2-5 was like his learning age as far as speech. Now, at 7, you’d never know he was a late talker. He is at the top of his class in every subject and reads 2 grade levels ahead. He is very science/math oriented. He’s never been into superheroes or transformers or sports or the typical boy things… He is into trains and mechanics and circuits and things like that.
    Just figured I’d update and give you guys some encouragement, because I know the worry involved.

  77. Hi,

    I can’t thank you enough! Your update has given me hope. I am going to give my son a break as well from speech therapy as he hates it. Thank you once again! God bless!

  78. All these delays in kids these days! Have you seen Baxxed the movie on Amazon Prime? All thes delays and illness’s are vaccine damage.

  79. Hi Dips, I’m glad my post put you at ease a little. I just remember being so worried, the pediatrician and speech therapist had said he was apraxic, speech therapy was so unproductive, but he could understand everything and was very social, and in my gut I knew he’d be ok. It’s just hard when everyone and everything said he was behind!
    Have you ever heard of the Einstein syndrome? Basically some brains are right sided wired, so spatial learning overtakes the speech and language left side. I don’t think my son is a genius or anything, but his brain is clearly science/math driven.
    If your son hates speech therapy, I’d take a break too. I remember they had started prompt therapy (they would touch my son’s face and lips to ‘teach’ him). What a disaster!
    Good luck, I know it’s frustrating!

  80. The American Pediatric Association recommends if a child hasn’t begun saying words by 18 months, the child should be seen by a speech pathologist and for an evaluation. I didnt know this when my now 3yo was 18 months, then 24 months and still hadn’t said one word but instead hums them. He also use hand gestures. His pediatrician said language delay but at 24 months, i refused to igjore what i felt was a serious speech problem. Two speech therapists evaluated him and both said he didn’t need speech therapy. I took him to weekky appts anyway. Then at 30 months, I demanded he be referred to a speech pathologist. A hearing test just prior was good.

    He’s now 36 months and nothing has changec. He will be checked next month for possible ckeft palet or nasal prob preventing him from being able to speak. If that checks out ok, I’ll continue with the SP but also have him evaluated by a pediatric psychiatrist and neurologist. My son still has no diagnosis. He still only hums his words. Trust your instincts. Don’t ask for referrals; kindly state you’d like a referral for an eval by _______ specialist (i.e. SP, psych, audiologist, etc). You are the most important advocate for your child and IF your child does have a speech problem, the earlier treatment begins, the better the possible outcome.

    I lost trust in my pediatrician as a result of assuming every child who has speech issue is just delayed and as a result, my son didn’t start any treatment until almost a year after he could’ve began. It’s on APA website that 18 month olds should be screened by SP for language delays. Print it if need be and take it to pediatrician. Is your child’s Dr going to refuse to follow APA recommendation? If so, absolutely find a new pediatrician immediately and schedule appt to discuss speech issue with new Dr.

    Diagnosing all kids with delayed speech just because it’s the likely problem affects those who end up genuinely having a speech problem. As its stands today, my son may have a neurological speech disorder but there are still several routes to pursue to rule out other possible issues. He continues to receive treatment from speech pathologist. I did get a second opinion and considering there’s so numerous possible causes, ruling those out one after the other will eventually lead to a diagnosis. He may have apraxia if all other causes ruled out.

    I hope and pray for the best for my son and all kids and their parents who feel the same worry, upset, and frustration as I do. May all our kids become their best they possibly can, whatever that may look like xoxoxo

  81. Pingback: To Pacify or Not To Pacify!

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