Does My Toddler Have A Speech Delay?

I’m not an expert or a therapist or a doctor. Just a mama. Do I need to add this disclaimer to every post? Anyway, I want to tell you about my toddler and her speech. I’m not sure if it’s a speech delay. But first…

Ayub as a toddler

toddler speech delay

When Ayub was 2 years old he couldn’t string two words together. His main vocabulary consisted of these words:

  • Mama
  • Pider (spider)
  • Dinodor (dinosaur)
  • Dobot (robot)
  • No
  • Dirty

Everyone told me it was normal and that kids develop at different speeds and that I was worrying for no reason.

It’s true, kids develop at different speeds. But I brought the kid to a hearing specialist just in case because I thought maybe he was hearing-impaired. He’s not. So I brought him to a speech therapist at Putrajaya Hospital and she said he was fine and I was overreacting. Ok. But I was right and it turned out Ayub has special needs.

And now he’s 8 years old and still struggles with speech. Gosh, I’m honestly still angry with all those experts and specialists who talked down to us for so many years. Screw you guys.

Sulaiman as a toddler

toddler speech delay

Anyway, Sulaiman was the opposite. He started speaking at 8 months. His first word was “Atuk” (grandfather <3). Then came Mama, Ah Mah, Ayub, Maman (Sulaiman), Kakak, circle, square, the full ABC, and everything else.

In fact, it was Sulaiman’s flawless speech as a toddler that really made me realise something was up with Ayub, then 5 years old, who was still struggling to form a complete sentence. Thank you, sweet Sulaiman.

Aisha as a toddler

toddler speech delay

So Aisha is now 19 months old. Her current vocabulary consists of the following words:

  • Mama
  • Ah Mah
  • Bubble
  • Baby
  • Meow

Reasons why I’m worried:

  • She can’t put two words together
  • She doesn’t say yes or no
  • She points and goes “uh!” a lot
  • She hasn’t picked up any new words
  • She still can’t say “Ayah”, “Ayub”, “Sulaiman” or “Atuk” (main people in her life)

The kid made up signs for things instead. Hand clap means phone. Then she has different signs for different songs that she loves. When she makes them, it means she wants you to sing for her. She’s very cute.

I spoke to Ayub’s speech therapist about it.

  1. She said as long as a child is able to say at least one word before their two years old, it should be ok.
  2. She added that Aisha’s current vocab is not bad. Five words is ok.
  3. “M” and “B” words are the easiest for babies to say. “Ayah” is difficult because of the “y.”
  4. Because Aisha has two older brothers who are very loud and vocal, she may not have the opportunity to speak or simply feel she doesn’t need to.
  5. We understand her non-vocal signs so she doesn’t need to speak.

How well developed should a toddler’s speech be?

The following is written by Ayub’s super-awesome-love-her-so-much-speech-therapist Emma (thank u Emma!)

  1. At 19 months old, toddlers should be able to use single words and understand almost all familiar things in her direct context (e.g. body parts, family members, toys, food, basic action words).
  2. Aisha only uses 5 words (and not on a regular basis)

The time period from 12 to 24 months has the largest span of ‘normal’ in terms of speech and language development.

Some 1 year old babies have many words already yet some don’t. Some 18 month old babies will only have 10 words in total. 18 months to 2 years of age is the crunch time! This is when language explosion should happen, she should have a spurt in her vocabulary, she will start to combine two words together once she has a good 50++ single words in her expressive vocabulary.

toddler speech delay

Such a pretty little human.

How do we know if Aisha will be on track?

  1. Understanding comes first. She should understand 50 words and above. If she still cannot identify body parts, family members, toys, food, basic action words now, that will be a worry. If she understand and able to identify most of the above, and not saying them out yet, that’s fine, she should pick it up within this next 6 months. (do an inventory of words that she understand, does it exceed 50 words?)
  2. It will be a worry if she does not catch up to her peers to combine 2 words between 24 to 30 months.
  3. If she stop talking or lose all her words- you have to bring her for intervention if this happen.

So I did a rough count of the words Aisha understands with her last night. I said a word and she pointed to it or did the action. It’s more than 50 and includes body parts, family members, other objects, and instructions like, “close the door,” “look out the window,” “open the curtain,” “put the toys in the box” etc.

Expectations for children of various age groups

  • 1 year old: single words
  • 18 months to 2 years: two-word combinations
  • 2-3 years: simple 3-word sentences

Here’s how to help your toddler’s speech

Easy picture books – One page, one picture. Repeat the word. Finish the book. Start again. Ask the toddler what the word is.

Pausing at the end of a song – “Twinkle twinkle little………. STAR!”

Lots of encouragement – Yay! High-five! Good job! You said “beh!”

For further reading check out this page.

What do you do to encourage your toddler to speak? Please let me know! 

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Laila Zain

Laila is a working mama who married young, had two beautiful boys, went through a shitty divorce, met an amazing man, remarried, and had a beautiful girl. Her eldest boy is a rainbow baby and special needs child. Her second is ridiculously smart. Her baby is a baby.

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