Late-talking toddlers: Should parents worry?

We parents love to chart our children’s developmental milestones. From the first little smile,  to the first tooth, to the first steps – we look forward to these important moments
as our children grow

First words are among the more memorable milestones, and when they’re late to arrive, parents may worry. Like everything else, language develops at different rates for different children – but, as parents, we  cannot help but compare our children to their peers or older siblings.

Here’s some good news for parents of toddlers with few words: a recent study reports that late talking does not foreshadow problems down the road.

The study looked at two-year-olds with language delays and checked in with them in elementary and high school. As toddlers, these children had more problems getting along with others and managing their behavior – which the researchers chalked up to the frustration of having few words. But, as they grew (and caught up in language development,) the late-talkers were just as well-adjusted as their peers.

This does not mean we should ignore language delays. If you are concerned about your child’s late talking, talk to your child’s doctor – either a family medicine physician or a pediatrician. It’s important to monitor  overall development to ensure that any problems are identified and addressed as early as possible.  As long as children have the vocabulary they need when kindergarten rolls around, parents can rest assured that their late talkers will do just fine.

Rebecca Reim, MD

About Rebecca Reim, MD

Family Medicine

University of Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin Family Medicine Residency Program, Madison

Board Certification
American Board of Family Practice
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