Why is your toddler not talking yet? How can you tell if he is a late talker (like his father was), or has development issues?
Most kids utter their first word at the average age of 14 months, although some babies may say one or two words from as early as nine months, says Dr Natalie Epton, a specialist paediatrician and neonatologist.
Children who grow up in a bilingual or trilingual environment are often late talkers. They usually have excellent understanding of all the languages spoken at home, and can follow instructions, even though they are slow to verbalise.
If your tot isn’t talking by 18 months, this may indicate an underlying development problem and you should take him for an assessment, Dr Epton advises.
Often, the doctor will arrange for a hearing test to make sure that your baby can hear well, and that the speech delay is not due to a hearing problem.
You can also test this by asking someone to visually distract your child, then stand behind and call to him softly. If he doesn’t turn around, there may be a hearing problem.
Other red flags include poor eye contact and a lack of non-verbal communication skills, such as pointing to what he wants. He is also unable to verbalise well, especially consonant sounds, has poor sound imitation and is not interested in communicating.
Late talking can sometimes run in the family, and knowing the age at which Daddy first spoke can be helpful, Dr Epton adds. But you still shouldn’t rule out a visit to the doctor’s.