Is My Son Going To Be A Late Talker?

One thing we noticed with our son, Oliver, is that he used to reach milestones with no issues. He rolled from back to front, front to back and then started army-crawling with no issues. Apparently a baby is meant to roll front to back before rolling back to front, but Oliver likes to be different… As soon as he started to army-crawl that was it. He army-crawled everywhere. Oliver actually didn’t learn to crawl on his hands and knee’s until a few months before he began walking. It also took him a while to sit up confidentially by himself. One thing we’ve noticed with Oliver recently is he doesn’t seem near to talking. Is he going to be a late talker?

Oliver: Is my son going to be a late talker?

When should a baby really start talking?

All articles, blog posts and YouTube videos I’ve watched about toddler speech say children begin to say first words (or things that sound similar to words) from their first birthday. According to Baby Centre your child should have said their first word around 12 months old, and these are usually ‘mama’ or ‘dada’. Around 15 months they should be able to say up to 6 simple words. Oliver is turning 14 months in a couple of days, and I’ll be honest, he’s barely saying one word at the moment. The closest word he’s saying is ‘juice’ (You can hear him pronounce the J, then he just hisses) – He’ll hand me his beaker and say juice when he’s run out of his drink. Honestly I’m quite proud of this one. It may not be Mama or Dada but seeing him asking for a drink is adorable.

When Oliver is upset he likes to say (or babble) Mamamama. We’re not really sure whether this counts as ‘Mama’. We can’t tell whether he’s associated the word Mama with me, or Dada with his Daddy. He’ll babble lots of ‘words’ but none of them seem to form an actual word. We try to have conversations with him to encourage him to speak, but he’s not interested. Now that he can walk, that seems to be all he’s interested in!

Am I worrying over nothing?

Now, all of the mothers I’ve spoken to since having these concerns that my son may be a late talker have told me not to worry and it’s really not as big as an issue as I’m making it. It’s so hard when you read ‘talking timelines’ online and hear from other mums ‘My child was saying sentences at XX age!’ If you’ve read this post, you would have noticed I hate this! I even had our health visitor tell me Oliver’s communication level is bad. What a pile of sh*t to put on an already anxious mother!

All children learn at different rates, and it’s not a bad thing if it takes a little longer to learn to talk, walk or even crawl. It’s not bad if a child talks later than another. One of my lovely blogging mummy friends, Georgina, has 2 daughters. She’s had 2 very different experiences with her little ones talking. This is her experience;

‘My eldest started talking at 10 months. We read lots of books together, I narrated everything I did e.g “Mummy is putting the plate in the dishwasher” “Mummy is going to put your socks on now”. Flash cards were another thing that really helped expand her vocabulary and she picked it all up easily and sailed through. My youngest daughter on the other hand said her first word at the same age but has “failed to progress” in the last 10 months and is waiting on a referral to speech and language therapy. I do all the same things with her as I did with my eldest with the addition of British Sign Language but we have had no new words for nearly 10 months. I think you can do all you can and then some and just like everything else, they do it when they’re ready.’

All babies learn at different rates

I think it’s tough seeing all of these expectations for your child, especially at specific times of their lives. Not all children will say their first word by 12 months. Some will talk before and some will talk after. Lots of mothers I’ve spoken to have said that their children didn’t start to confidently say words much after the ‘expected’ time. I think it’s important to not put too much pressure on a child, for the sake of the child and yourself.

What can I do to help?

I’ve been given lots of tips to help Oliver learn to talk properly, and we’re doing them on a daily basis. The most popular tip was to talk about everything we’re doing throughout the day. We have done this most of his life but we’re now trying to do it with everything we do with him. When we’re playing with him we’ll tell him what the toy is, and if it’s an animal we’ll make the sound the animal makes. When we’re changing him we’ll say out loud what we’re putting on him and taking off.

Another tip we were given was to copy his babble. I’m not quite sure how it helps, but I assume it encourages him to make more sounds and hopefully say some words. If he makes a sound that’s very similar to a word we pronounce the actual word for him. I’m hoping this will slowly help him towards pronouncing the words correctly. We were also told to read to Oliver, which we do already, but I must admit we should do it more often.

Oliver: Is my son going to be a late talker?

Am I worried about Oliver? Worried probably isn’t the right word. Anxious maybe? Of course I’m dying for him to speak, but I’m trying to not let it get me down. I’m not worried about if in the future we need to see a speak and language therapist, nor am I worried about his communication skills. He can confidently show me he wants a drink, wants to get picked up and other things. It’s probably a bit too early to tell whether Oliver is going to struggle, but since the health visitor told me Oliver’s communication is classed as ‘bad’ it got me wondering.

At the end of the day, he’ll talk when he’s ready, even if he does need a little help. Are you going through speech difficulties, or are you wondering whether your child will be a late talker? Let me know!

Sarah

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  • This is so interesting. Firstly I’m totally with you, I get so frustrated with forums and people going on about how advanced their baby is – I completely understand the desire to be proud but there’s a way to go about it. Dougie does a lot of “mamamamamma” and “dadadadada” but just at the world in general, there is no association with either of us, his new thing is “a…derrrrrrr” whatever that means, it’s all he babbles. The thing I just tell myself is that they’ll get there when they’re ready. One of the babies in my NCT group literally never made a noise other than crying until he was a year, they’re all different! (Also Dougie was the same with rolling as Oliver, he went back to front – I panicked at the time that he’d never be able to go the other way, then had to remind myself that as an adult he’d probably be able to get from front to back 😛)
    Love seeing all the photos of Oliver that go with this post – play date soon? They can babble at each other 😍 xxx

  • I’m a mum of three and all mine have been different, Kai took forever to talk while Amelia my second talked really quickly and now with Robin she at 16 months has finally started ‘chatting’ in her own language

    All children are different and I really think you shouldn’t worry so early if they aren’t talking, I think it’s if they are closing in on school age and haven’t said much x

  • All these posts and “timelines” are more just guidelines I think, as you so rightly said – every child is different and will progress at their own pace.
    My youngest is 19 months right now and he mostly babbles incoherent sounds lol. He can understand so much more than he can say. I don’t think its worth worrying too much right now, yore doing all the right things by talking through what you’re doing and what everything is etc. 🙂 x

  • Please don’t feel anxious! Honestly they all do things at their own pace.
    My eldest wee boy only started properly speaking in March this year (he turns three in November) but he could walk at 10 months! He has always loved being read and I worried loads about his speech. Turns out he was just too busy to take the time to learn to speak and it all came flooding out when he was good and ready. Some days I wish he didn’t know the word ‘why’.
    Oliver will be there before you know it!

  • Awww my son was a late talker. He was saying a few words by 18 months, but didn’t say “mama” until I want to say around 16 or 17 months. The only thing he said before that was “hi there” (ha da to most outsiders lol) and made animal noises. When you imitate their babble, it shows them that imitation is possible so they’re more likely to imitate you! However, around 19 months, its like a switch flipped for my son. He’d been referred to a speech therapist and by the time we actually went to our appointment at 20 months, they were like, “ok, so he was delayed, but he’s not anymore!” He surprises me now by knowing all his ABCs, numbers, shapes, and colors at just turned 2 years old. Keep reading to Oliver, keep talking to him, keep imitating! Trust your gut and it will be ok <3

  • I didn’t talk until I went to nursery. Mum said all the health professionals decided I was just lazy – I knew if I pointed or waited long enough mum and dad would get me what I needed. I only spoke at nursery because they wouldn’t help me until I actually asked. Regardless of what happens your little one will get there. Good luck xx

  • My cousin had a similar situation with her youngest. We really thought he was going to be a mute as he hardly said one word before the age of 3. She was obviously worried, thinking she may have to take him to speech therapy of some sort. She talked to the pediatrician and she said that it is nothing to worry about and he is a healthy toddler. She told her that sometimes when there’s other people around, or if the child has older siblings, then he or she feels as if they don’t need to talk because others are doing it for them. He’s now 6 years old, super smart and social as can be at school; he just apparently didn’t want to start talking until he was older! Nothing to worry about, every child is different and as long as he’s happy that’s all that matters, the talking will definitely come!