18-month-old doesn't talk much, but his development is on target

PARENT Q & A

Family Matters

January 02, 2000|By Dr. T. Berry Brazelton | Dr. T. Berry Brazelton,NEW YORK TIMES SSECIAL FEATURES

Q. I have a 4-year-old daughter who speaks like she is 40 and an 18-month old son who is really trying but says only a few words. I know I shouldn't compare my children, but I am worried about my son. My pediatrician says his hearing is fine and he is doing OK. However, when I listen to other children his age, I know he is behind.

I am a full-time working mom. I stayed home with my daughter for almost two years but went back to work when my son was still an infant. I read books to them almost every night, but my son usually ends up playing instead of looking at the pictures.

Is it OK for an 18-month-old to say only a few words and to grunt and point when he wants something? Please advise me on what I should be doing, if anything.

A. Your son is on target for an 18-month-old. He says a few words and has good gestural speech -- he tells you with his behavior what he wants. If you want to encourage him to speak more, act as if you can't understand him unless he says the word. Also, speak directly to him more often.

This "delay" is common in second children. I'll bet his older sister does a lot of his speaking for him. Give him time. If he is not speaking more by the time he is 2, then you should have him evaluated.

It sounds as if you are feeling guilty about having gone back to work so soon. Don't be so hard on yourself. I'm sure you make it up to him when you get home each night, and you are doing the right thing by reading to him.

Be sure to have time on the weekends to be with him alone. You will both profit from this.

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