Speech delays: When to be concerned

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Speech delays: When to be concerned

Question

At what age should a child start to talk? My granddaughter is almost two years old and doesn't even say "mommy" or "daddy." She just grunts a lot.

Dawn
Florida

Answer

Most children are saying simple words, such as "mama" and "dada" by age 1. But it's important to remember that children vary greatly in their speech development. Even so, a doctor would likely be concerned if a 2 year old was not yet speaking. Children at this age can typically:

  • Point to an object when it's named
  • Recognize names of familiar people, objects and body parts
  • Say several dozen words
  • Use simple phrases

A child whose speech isn't progressing should be checked by a doctor. Speech delays occur in up to 10 percent of young children. Causes include:

  • Hearing loss from recurrent ear infections
  • Being a twin
  • Slow development
  • Mental retardation
  • Autism

In addition, children living in bilingual homes may experience some speech delays as they learn to interpret and use two languages. This is normal.

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