I often run across parents who are concerned about whether their toddler is delayed in language and should be evaluated. Many times I get calls when a child is around 15 months old. Recently a dad contacted me concerned that his 15-month-old Jack wasn’t saying any words yet.

I am not surprised that parents become alarmed at this age because this is just about when a child typically begins his “vocabulary explosion”. The second half of the second year is when children start to say all those wonderful rich words that they have been storing up in their minds!

Typically a child will say his first word around her first birthday, are saying 6-10 words by around 15 months and by 2 years of age they should have around 50 words and be putting two word together like “my truck” or “blue ball.” I advise parents to wait until about 18 months and if your child is not saying any words, speak to your pediatrician and consider contacting a speech pathologist for an evaluation. A good place to start is your Birth-3 Provider whose number you can get from your pediatrician. I know in the state of Connecticut their evaluation is free so it is helpful to get their professional opinion on your child’s language level. Many components are looked at, not just the number of words your child is saying. They will evaluate what your child understands, gestures, means she is using to communicate etc. If you are looking for a private speech pathologist you can log on to the ASHA (American Speech Hearing Association) website and find a professional in your area.

Do not panic. I see some 18-20 month-olds who look delayed and some indeed need intervention but others just need a “jump start” by giving parents suggestions and strategies on how to talk to their child to encourage language. (offering choices, modeling speech not asking too many questions etc.)

It is always best to go with your intuition. As parents you know your child the best. I am so impressed with the information parents give me, because they know their child. If you feel she is behind and should be checked then pursue it.