My son is now 1 year and 10 months old and he hardly speaks. He calls Maa, Paa and very few words. But he understands whatever we say and is smart enough to do things. He will understand if we scold him or praise him. He helps in our daily work, even if we tell him not to by saying that "You can't carry it, as it's too heavy." He is not ready to listen and wants to do it anyway.

I am bit worried that should I put him in a playhome with this condition or give it some more time until I put him in one.

  • Not listening to your parents claim you can't do something never actually stops, that's just being human.
    – Remco
    Jan 23, 2015 at 11:04

4 Answers 4


Please see this PDF called the Denver Developmental II. It represents normal milestones in development and is used around the world. The white area in each rectangle are the normals; the blue areas are the "late but not off the chart yet". Off the chart indicates a need to probe further.

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As you can see (I've added the arrows at 22 months), by now he's delayed if he doesn't know 6 words (any words. "maa, daa, baa (bottle), no, etc. They all count.) He should be able to point out two things that you're reading to him or showing him (of all the pages, not on every page). If he points to a doggie and a cow, you're all set for that one. If he doesn't, he has 2 more months to pick up that skill before it's considered abnormal. If he knows any body parts ("Where are your hands? Show me!" "Where's your nose/mouth/head/(anything), he's good. If he occasionally combines 2 words ("Maa, no"), he's good. Note the top box: "speech half-understandable".

This gives you a rough idea of two things: what's considered normal, and how late most kids develop speech. Some experts do not even advocate diagnosing a speech problem before 24 months.

The PDF will show if he's on target for other milestones. Without asking you specifically (you can look at the chart yourself), I would guess from the bit that you say, that he's just fine!

So, enjoy the little guy for who he is: an intelligent, sweet, helpful little guy. Don't worry about putting him into preschool; it's fine if you do.

He has a doctor's appointment at 24 months, and if he has fallen off the chart on anything, talk to your doctor then. He may be an early bloomer in some areas and a late bloomer in others.

By the way, it's OK to fall off the chart in a few boxes (especially speech). It's the overall pattern that matters, and it's just a tool to let your doctor know if they need to consider any other tests. A doctor can usually diagnose a problem using this chart (asking mom if the baby does these things) and watching the child playing on the floor during the interview. The chart is not a substitute for the trained eye of a physician. It's just a guide.

  • 1
    Nice chart, I've never seen that before.
    – Joe
    Jan 23, 2015 at 15:06
  • @Joe - I'm not surprised. They aren't handed out to parents, and they're a bit pricy. :) The developers of the chart hold a pretty tight reign on its use. But, it's on the internet now! Jan 23, 2015 at 15:09
  • Is the data from the 60s, or have they updated it since then?
    – Joe
    Jan 23, 2015 at 15:09
  • 1
    In Germany, the health insurance pays for your child to be taken to the doctor in set intervals for these checks. I find it very, very helpful to have someone professional do these assessments so you do not have to make those judgments ("any words. 'maa, daa, baa'") on your own.
    – sbi
    Jan 24, 2015 at 20:23
  • 1
    @sbi Our health insurance pays for doctor's visits at these intervals also. However, babies and toddlers aren't particularly prone to performing on command all of the things on these charts; hence why it is a good idea to do them on your own, so that when the doctor asks "Does he do ..." that you are ready to answer the question if he won't perform on command :)
    – Joe
    Jan 27, 2015 at 15:22

My youngest is also 22 months, and is definitely not "speaking properly" by some definition, though he sounds like he's a little further along than yours - he puts 3-5 words together ("Not do that", "Stand up", etc.). Definitely not sentences or anything else I'd call "properly", but quite in the normal range for a child of that age from my experience.

There are definitely a variety of different ability levels when it comes to speaking; 22 months should be able to say some words, but it sounds like he's at that level. Boys tend to be further behind than girls in terms of speaking, and if he's an only child (or a first child) then it's also going to delay things some in terms of sophistication (speaking in sentences, for example).

Putting him in a playhome (I assume this translates to 'daycare' of some form) will neither help nor hurt him in this area, as long as you're regularly interacting with him when he is at home; if you're busy (a lot of cleaning/cooking, or online education classes, or such) then it likely would help him; children learn to talk by hearing others do it, first and foremost, so if he's around people who talk more around him (both his-age and older kids, and the teachers) he'll be able to improve.

You should be seeing your pediatrician at around 2 years old, hopefully, and during that visit you should discuss this concern with her/him. Your pediatrician is able to help you understand exactly what you should be concerned with. He/she can test your son's hearing, which is the most common problem related to speech; particularly if your son had more ear infections than is typical for a child (more than 3 that required medication, I think) this is a good thing to check.

I recommend filling out an Ages and Stages questionnaire for his age, such as this one which is appropriate for 24 months. This gives you a checklist that will help you answer questions when you go to your appointment; many of the questions the doctor should ask are on this sheet. Do not expect your child to do all of the things listed - it is intentionally including some things that would be well above age level (I've always felt as an honesty test, largely, though I don't know for sure) and every child certainly develops differently, so different children would be at different levels in this questionnaire.

All in all, I think that your son is not necessarily particularly behind in speech; but that doesn't mean you shouldn't stay on top of things, as if it turns out he is developmentally delayed in this area, the earlier you address the problem the better it is for his future.

  • Just a couple of comments. It sounds like your 22 month old is well within normal in speech, and speech is actually later but more sophisticated in secondborns and later. Jan 23, 2015 at 15:22
  • @anongoodnurse Oh, absolutely - I was trying to explain that 'speak properly' isn't a normal skill at that age :) As far as younger/firstborns, I have a limited experience here for sure, but at the daycare in the 2 year old room it was obvious which children were second-born: they talked in sentences well before the firstborns, almost exclusively, and girls same before boys (The firstborn girls talked in sentences at around the same time as the second-born boys). Is that what you mean by sophisticated?
    – Joe
    Jan 23, 2015 at 15:24
  • Sophisticated is exactly that; earlier sentences, earlier use of pronouns ("mine!"), etc. But the firstborns reach the 50-word milestone earlier, etc. Jan 23, 2015 at 15:26
  • Hmm. Interesting. That probably explains the difference in my two then: my 22 month old didn't know his color words quiet as early (my firstborn knew how to say several colors before one, while my secondborn just in the last couple of months learned his last few rainbow colors; they both knew what they looked like) but my firstborn didn't have the "Don't want that" as early.
    – Joe
    Jan 23, 2015 at 15:27

Not speaking properly at 1yr 10 months does not seem abnormal to me. I've met my girlfriend's daughter when she was a bit more than 2 years old, and she was barely saying a small set of words. At 4 years now, she never never never stop speaking... which is adorable but a bit exhausting. :)

I think most childs do not talk more than a few words barely recognizable at that age, although I do not have any source for that.


This doesn't seem to far off. Also keep in mind: there is more communication than verbal. Does your child use signs? Or body language? Can you understand what he is trying to communicate?

If so, maybe he just prefers these methods over using words. My daughter between two and three was also not speaking much, but everyone commented on how easy it was to understand what she wanted because she was very good at using signs to communicate things.

She's three and a half by now, and she's talking without too much trouble now. As long as they understand communicating, they'll learn speech when they're ready for it. Not everyone enjoys talking, and kids might be just the same.

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