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Toddler Development And Learning To Talk

Toddler Care Videos

When will my baby start to talk?

From the age of two months you can expect your baby to start cooing, but she won’t be able to say words until she is around a year old, and won’t be forming sentences until she between two and two and a half years old.

Helping a child learn to speak

Giving your child eye contact and attention when you talk to her will encourage her to speak.

Reading stories, singing nursery rhymes and leaving gaps in conversation for your toddler to answer will also help speech development.

Your toddler may be put off from speaking if you correct pronunciation. Instead, be positive and encouraging by saying things like “Yes, that’s right...,” and repeat the word correctly. Your toddler will often develop her own words for things and whilst you are able to understand what she means, it is important not to repeat the word back to her, as she will learn best by mimicking you.

You can help their learning to talk by being patient and positive. Children develop at their own pace and how quickly they speak has a lot to do with an inborn ability to use language.

When should I be concerned about my toddler’s speech development?

A child who is 18 months old and not saying recognisable words should be assessed by a health visitor and may require a hearing test, as children need to be able to hear in order to learn speech. Other causes of late toddler development include:

- Lack of verbal stimulation, often from parents

- Lack of affection and security (emotional deprivation)

- Mental retardation

- Autism

- Language delay, known as isolated speech delay

Visit your doctor or health visitor if you feel your toddler is not developing language skills.


There is often nothing to worry about, but the sooner a problem is picked up the quicker the cause of the speech delay can be addressed.

Dr Carol Cooper, General Practitioner

Author of Baby and Child – Your questions answered


10657 Revised November 2012

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