Science Says 'Don't Worry Too Much About Late Talkers!'

posted by R's Mom , April 20, 2016

Is your baby a late talker? Here's why you should not worry too much.
My younger one is 17 months and she is not really talking anything coherent. She babbles a lot but the only words she says is 'Amma', 'Appa' and 'Didi'. Since my older one started talking pretty coherently by the time she was 17 months (well not pretty coherently, but she did speak a lot more words!) I started getting a bit scared. I have been telling people around me about her not talking and my mom (being mom and the most sensible one) told me to stop comparing kids. She says my elder brother spoke pretty late while I was a fast talker. As per my mother in law, my husband didn't start talking till he was two years while my sister-in-law, who is younger to him by five years, spoke pretty coherently by the time she was one year!

So I guess it differs from child to child.

Some Kids Have Language Delays

As per this article from ABC Science, between 7 to 18 percent of children have language delays at two years, although most catch up by the time they start school. 

Andrew Whitehouse and colleagues at the University of Western Australia, followed late talkers into their teens in a long-term study and found that they were no more likely to be shy, depressed or aggressive than their peers as they grow up.Between 7 to 18 per cent of children have language delays at two years, although most catch up by the time they start school.

Shy Toddlers

We all know how shy toddlers are can with strangers or even with folks they know. As per this livescience article,

Furthermore, the lack of speaking wasn't related to any actual language impediment. 

About 15 percent of 12- to 24-month olds have shy temperaments. These kids exhibit what's known as "behavioral inhibition." They are bashful around other people and shrink away from new experiences. Shyness is part of the normal range of human personalities, but numerous studies have linked a shy attitude to language delays in kids. Furthermore, the lack of speaking wasn't related to any actual language impediment. The researchers looked at the growth in language skills over time relative to each child's behavior.

Stop Feeling Guilty

As a parent, we often tend to blame ourselves when our kids don't meet milestones. Like I was thinking, that perhaps my younger one is not speaking yet because she is not going to daycare as the older one used to go. She is missing out on interacting with other kids as she stays at home all day. While my older one was at daycare from the age of one, the younger one has been home most times with me. Is that the reason why she is not speaking?

But as per this article from Science Daily, the study found that a mother's education, income, parenting style or mental health had no impact on a child's likelihood of being a late talker. 

The study found that a mother's education, income, parenting style or mental health had no impact on a child's likelihood of being a late talker."Some people have wrongly believed that delayed language development could be due to a child not being spoken to enough or because of some other inadequacy in the family environment," Associate Professor Taylor said. "This is clearly not the case and I hope these findings will reassure many parents that delayed language is not a reflection on their parenting or the child's intelligence. 

This article in The Telegraph gives 20 words which most children should be able to use by the time they are two.

20 words which most children should be able to use by the age of two: Mummy, daddy, milk, juice, hi, hello, ball, no, dog, cat, nose, eye, show, banana, car, hot, thank you, shoe.

Stimulate The Kids By Interaction

According to this TIME article, which states the same study in Western Australia, "Get down on the floor and play with [your] child, talk with them, read to them and interact with them at their level."

That doesn't mean that all language delays should be dismissed, however. Some kids may simply be getting a slower start, but if toddlers don't start speaking by the time they enter school, experts say that's probably a sign that they may need some type of intervention to prevent future developmental issues. The best way to ensure that children hit normal language milestones is to engage with them and stimulate them by introducing them to new things in their environment, Whitehouse says. "Get down on the floor and play with [your] child, talk with them, read to them and interact with them at their level," he says.

So the next time you get worried about your child not talking, remember some kids start late. As long as they are medically alright, and the child's pediatrician is happy with the progress, don't bother too much and more importantly stop comparing your kids with other kids, including siblings, much like I did! 

And as my mom told me about my older one, "Once she starts talking, you will wonder why on earth doesn't she stop talking!"
Image credits: Sunlife.ca


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