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My nearly 16 month old son can only say the word mama, he babbles on all day but doesnt say actual words that I can understand, should he be saying more by now I'm getting worried.

Any comments or advice would be greatly appreciated.


  • hiya speech therephy doesn't get involved until toddlers are around 30 months, so he has got plenty of time yet. does he understand you? if you asked him to get his shoes would he understand? or if you said do you want a orange or apple, would he point to the one he wants??

    the best thing you can do keep speeching to him and give lots of choices so you can stop the yes/no answers. he needs to understand before he starts to verbally speech and he's doing lots of copying of by babbling so don't worry. xxxxx
  • Yes he understands a lot of what I say and will get his shoes/coat etc if I ask him and he nods or shakes his head for yes and no.

    I feel a lot better now and I will try not to worry, thanks xx
  • Hi my daughter didnt talk much at all when she was younger, i think she was abojut 17/18 months and i was still worrying, she went 2 in september & at the moment she talks nonstop, she can say words i didnt even know she knew & she can count to 10 etc, she really is coming on well, so i woudnt worry too much they just seem to do it & then more and more x
  • Hi there. I'm a speech and language therapist and would see children from around 20 months if not using recognisable words and around 2 - 2.5 years if not joining words. As I've said before, all SLT departments should run an open-referral system which means that you can call directly to refer your own child or simply call for some advice should you want it. Different children do develop at different rates, but follow your maternal instincts and follow the general guidelines above. If you have any other questions, ask away!
  • it's encouraging to hear that your daughter is talking non stop now coxley i'll try not to worry much now!

    I would like to ask campbellly if there anything I can do to encourage him to say more words and although you said they all develop at different rates I was wondering if by his age he should be saying more, he understands loads of what I say but is not interested in copying words?

  • Hi there. I'm a speech and language therapist and would see children from around 20 months if not using recognisable words and around 2 - 2.5 years if not joining words.

    round here it's 30 months when we'll start to see salt properly, so it must be different in different areas. We've had a few words with the salt at our cdc when we're there and she's given us some tips but she it's pointless as children can develop very quickly. I never really believed her but daniel only said "hiya", "ta" & "botbot" up until 3 weeks ago and now he's has about 20 words he says and can understand about 20 more!

    amazing how they can change so quickly! :\)
  • Hi Chasy, sorry for the slow reply, I've been away for a few days. I wouldn't worry if your wee boy is only 16 months. If he still has very few words at around 20 months then it might be worth getting some advice. In general the type of advice we would give at this stage would be to match your language to that of your child's e.g. if you want your child to say more single words, then use single words as much as possible since he's not going to copy a long sentence. Also, pick two or three words that you want your child to say and be really conscious of using them as much as possible. These should be useful, frequently used words e.g. juice, biscuit, up etc. It may help to add a gesture at the same time as studies show that this can help children acquire vocabulary BUT always say the word at the same time as using the gesture. Reducing the number of questions you ask can also be useful as it gives your child a chance to lead and think. Beware the dreaded "what's that?" phrase! Instead of asking, tell your child what it is. I've had a few kids in who have thought everything in sight was called a "what's that?" because their parents pointed to things and said this phrase!!!!

    Chances are that you're doing most of this stuff already but perhaps it's good to be reassured you're doing the right things. As I've said though, I wouldn't be too concerned at this stage.

    Hope you get on okay.

  • Thanks very much for the advice it's very helpful, he has just started to understand loads of what I say and will do things that I ask him to but his only word is still mama! he's always babbling on and try's to tell me things but nothing I can understand.

    I will follow your advice by repeating just a few words and I wont say "whats that" which I had just started to say!
  • My dd's 16 months as well - she used to say bear, daddy and mummy. And her nanna said she heard her say "juice" but of course she wouldn't repeat it. Nursery says she says "hello" and "ta" and can do some makaton sign language as well (not that she's deaf, they just use it there to help communicate) but do we get to hear any of it??? Do we heck!! She just burbles and babbles when we're around and doesn't even bother with the words she used to say. My mum said my sister was the same because I always got her whatever she wanted when she pointed and grunted - and guess what I do the same thing with dd... When my sister got to 18 months and still didn't speak my mum says she refused to get her anything unless she said at LEAST please and ta. And she banned me from doing it either. It took about 2 days and SUDDENLY my sister could talk (mind you my mum says she wished she hadn't bothered now... 28 years later and she won't shut up...) I'm planning on trying that in a couple of months to see if it makes any difference... and if I can stand the screeching...
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