Late Talker

Who is a Late Talker?

A late talker is defined as a child that is 18-30 months of age who seems to understand language well but does not talk or say words as much as is expected for a child that age. Late talkers are typically developing well in other areas such as play skills, motor skills, thinking skills, etc.

To give you a point of reference for how many words your child should be using, here is a chart based on age. The number of words represents the average size of a child’s vocabulary at that age, but slightly lower isn’t necessarily a large concern. However, if your child is far off from these numbers, there may be a problem.

Age of Child Number of Words
12 months 2-6 words
15 months 10 words
18 months 50 words
24 months (2 years) 200-300 words
30 months 450 words
36 months (3 years) 1,000 words
42 months 1,200 words
48 months (4 years) 1,600 words

What Can I Do as a Parent of a Late Talker?

Being a parent of a late talker can be very scary. You have probably received a ton of different advice from well-meaning parents and professionals who have told you what they think you should be doing to help your child. Keep in mind that some late talkers do learn to speak normally on their own without any speech therapy or interventions at all. However, there is no way to tell for sure if your child will be one of those or not. Some children require intensive therapy to speak normally and the earlier that therapy is started, the better. As a speech-language pathologist, I recommend beginning treatment as soon as the problem is detected. This gives your child the best chance possible to catch up.

If you are concerned with your child’s speech and language development, here’s what you should do:

A certified speech-language pathologist will be able to tell you for sure if your child has a speech or language delay. She will also be able to give you individualized recommendations for strategies to use at home to help your child.