Toddlers Who Are Having Trouble Talking

By Kay Ireland
Playing games with your toddler can help develop communication skills.
Playing games with your toddler can help develop communication skills.

A toddler's language development is usually rapid and sometimes unexpected. From a babbling baby to a child who can articulate her needs, verbal development can make you feel like you're really getting to know your little one. If your toddler doesn't seem to be progressing, however, it could be the sign of a verbal delay. Because communication skills are so vital, it's important that you observe and report signs of a delay to your pediatrician for possible intervention.

Milestones and Warning Signs

By about age 2, your toddler should be a veritable chatterbox. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that a typical 2-year-old should have a vocabulary of 50 to 100 words, should be able to name his body parts, follow simple one-part commands and even put together two-word sentences. While all toddlers develop at a different rate, the AAP notes that your little one could have a delay if a lack of verbal skills are coupled with other symptoms, such as a lack of affection, not noticing if you're in the room, a preference to always play alone or seems to easily tune everyone and everything out. These could be the signs of a social or developmental disorder that requires intervention from your pediatrician.


Verbal delays can have a number of causes, the first of which being completely normal toddler behavior. Some little ones are naturally more communicative than others, so if your friend's child has a bigger vocabulary than yours, it doesn't automatically point to a delay. However, other conditions, such as a hearing impairment, a language or learning disability or autism, can have a vast effect on your child's communication skills, notes the University of Michigan Health System.

Parent's Role

If your toddler's trouble with communication skills doesn't seem serious and your pediatrician isn't worried, you can try a few things at home to get your toddler talking. By narrating what you do each day, whether it's washing dishes, grocery shopping or going to the park, you teach your toddler the different words for the things he sees on a daily basis. You can also make a special effort to read to your child, suggests Communicating with your child as much as you can will help give your little one the vocabulary and encouragement he needs to talk more.

Medical Intervention

Your pediatrician will let you know if your quiet toddler needs more than some extra parental TLC. If your toddler's verbal skills aren't progressing as they should, your pediatrician may ask you to see a speech therapist and may further work with you to choose a diagnosis for your child. Medical intervention can be the key to your child's communication skills, so it's important to follow any treatment plan recommended by your doctor. By using tools and specialists specifically for your toddler's delay, you can help your little one become better able to express himself.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.