Speech delays: When to be concerned

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Speech delays: When to be concerned


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.



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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