Your baby's pediatrician will begin asking you about the number of words your baby says when he or she reaches the age of 9 or 12 months old, and the doctor will continue asking this question at the next few appointments. This is done to make sure your child's speech is developing at a proper pace. However, many children have delayed developments with their speech. If your child is not meeting the milestones your doctor discusses with you, there are several things you should know.
Some kids just don't speak as soon as others
The developmental milestones with words are just based on averages. Some kids exceed the number of words they should speak by a certain age, but others are nowhere close to saying the specific number of words. If your child is not meeting these milestones, you should understand that there most likely is no problem at all. Kids develop at different paces; however, you should talk to your child's doctor if you are concerned.
Causes of slow speech development
While your child may not have anything wrong with him or her at all, there are certain causes of slow speech development that your doctor might discuss with you. Poor hearing is one cause, but this one is usually easy to rule out. If your child understands things you say and can follow simple commands, he or she probably does not have a hearing issue.
Other causes of slow speech can include issues with the size or functions of the tongue and issues with the brain's communication with the tongue. In rare cases, brain trauma or disorders can also be the cause of delayed speech.
Speech therapy can help
If you truly believe your child may have a speech problem, you can take him or her to a speech pathologist. A speech pathologist is an expert with speech issues and will be able to diagnose the problem, if there is one. When you initially meet with the pathologist, he or she will evaluate your child's speech in order to determine if there is a problem. If there is, your child will meet with the pathologist for help over the next few weeks, months, or years. The actual length of time will depend on what the issue is.
Many toddlers have delayed speech, and in many cases the problem corrects itself on its own over time. If you would like to have your child evaluated, though, you can schedule an appointment with a speech pathologist in your area.