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Signs of Speech Delay

All parents tend to constantly worry about the development of their children, as well as the speed at which they reach each milestone. When they fall behind the children of friends and acquaintances, we start searching for a reason first, and then the solution. As parents of multiples, we have the luxury (and sometimes, frustration) of watching and noting those developmental differences in our own homes. With constant research, one will find that it is normal for multiples to have a speech or developmental delay. Some of these delays are attributed to prematurity and early births, but some are just more common within twins or multiples just because they have each other.

At two years old I noticed that my Baby A was able to speak full sentences. She was very vocal and would often help her twin by speaking for her. As a mother I secretly worried about this. Was Baby B not talking because she didn't have to or because she couldn't? Having read many studies about speech delays I worried that this would affect her behavior in the future. To my surprise, I found an article that clarified that children with speech delays do catch up eventually. In addition, although they tend to have behavioral issues during their early years it all evens out in the end (sigh).

So, how do you know if your child has a speech delay? Check out the list below (but please take it with a grain of salt), and remember that children do NOT develop at the same rate. It's kind of unfair to compare them so intensely just because they were part of a package deal. Let's face it, if they were born years apart you would never remember exactly when one spoke or walked or even smiled if it weren't for that baby book in the closet...


Signs of Speech Delay:

6-12 months

Child does not try to sound out words. You should mostly hear a lot of “na-na's” and “da-da's”

Child does not know how to imitate a cough and laugh.

12-18 months

By 12 months your baby does not make gestures, like shaking their head or waving.

By 12 months your babies do not try to communicate with you when they need help.

At 15 months child does not know what “bye-bye” and “no” are.

Not saying at least 15 words by 18 months.

19-24 months

By 19 months, your child doesn't point out interesting things like a bird or a loud car.

By 20 months, your child does not nod his/her head for yes or shakes head for no.

By 21 months, your child does not “dance” to music.


Trust your instincts. If you feel that your child has a speech delay it is very important for you to discuss this with your pediatrician at their next wellness visit. With early intervention, many children with speech delays have improved speech by the time they begin school!

Sources: KidsHealth.org, KeepKidsHealthy.com

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