Late Talkers

Does My Toddler Need Speech Therapy?

March 20, 2023

I’m Brooke
I'm a speech therapist with a mission to make speech therapy simple and accessible! 
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toddler with speech delay and her day

If you’ve noticed your toddler isn’t using many words yet, you may start wondering if they need speech therapy.  If you have concerns about your child’s speech development, it’s always helpful to seek out support. Additionally, the following questions might be helpful:

Does My Toddler Get Frustrated Often?

When your toddler can’t tell you that they want, it can lead to frustration-and meltdowns. It’s understandable, right? It would be frustrating to not be able to communicate what you want.  Not only can speech therapy help with strategies to support your toddler in saying more words, but it can give your child more ways to express themselves as they are working on saying more.

Does My Toddler Have a History of Ear Infections?

Different sounds are heard at different frequencies and if your child isn’t hearing all the sounds due to repeated ear infections or fluid in their ears, they could be missing out on language during this critical time.  Repeated ear infections are associated with continued language delay so it may be a good idea to reach out to a Speech Pathologist if your child has a history of ear infections and delayed speech (Olswang, et at. 1998)

Does My Toddler Use Gestures?

Gestures come before words. In fact, research shows that a child who produces a gesture for an object will likely learn the word for that object within 3 months (Goldin-Meadow, S. (2015). I like to think of gestures as “mini milestones.” Not only do gestures help children learn spoken words, but they can significantly decrease frustration. If you’re noticing, that your child isn’t making many gestures, it might be helpful to reach out to a Speech Pathologist.  If your child isn’t pointing by around 12 months, that would be another reason to seek out support.  Sidenote: There are 16 gestures we expect children to obtain by 16 months. You can find them here

toddler with speech delay looking out the window

Does My Toddler Use Many Different Sounds?

Sounds are building blocks for words, so if you’re little one isn’t using many sounds, it may be difficult for them to say new words. A Speech Pathologist can help with ways to expand the sounds your little one is using so that it’s easier for them to say more words. If your child never babbled and was a quiet as a baby, that would be another reason to consult with a Speech Pathologist.

Does My Toddler Understand Most of What I Say?

Receptive language refers to what your toddler understands. Expressive language refers to what your child is saying (this includes signs/gestures). If your toddler isn’t pointing to familiar objects in a book, following directions, or understanding many of the objects you are talking about, a speech therapist can help.

Does My Toddler Copy Actions and Sounds?

Children copy actions and sounds before they copy words. Sometimes this is where we need to start in speech therapy and a speech therapist can show you exactly how to do this.

Would it be Helpful to Have Strategies to Help My Toddler’s Speech At Home?

Learning to talk happens during the simple, everyday moments like conversations and during daily routines.  That’s why speech therapy for toddlers is focused on equipping you with the strategies to help your toddler. Think about how much time you spend with your child. It’s way more than a speech therapist ever could!  Helping you help your toddler talk is a huge part of speech therapy with toddlers.

Do my Toddler’s Play and Social Skills Seem Appropriate:

Language is built upon social communication skills such as attending to the people around us and noticing what they’re noticing. If any of these foundational areas are weak, language development will be weak. If you notice your child’s play or social skills seem behind other kids their age, a Speech Pathologist can help.

Do I Have a Gut Feeling?

Our intuition is based on our experiences and if you have a feeling, trust your gut. There are absolutely things you can do to help your child start talking!

What should I do if I have concerns about my toddler’s speech?

  1. Consult with a Speech Pathologist. It’s never too early to be proactive.

2. Use speech therapy strategies at home.  You spend more time with your child than a speech therapist ever could so that makes you the best person to help your little one. That’s exactly why I created, my online course for parents of toddlers with a speech delay.

3. Grab my Free Late-Talker Guide with 5 strategies you can start using right away


Goldin-Meadow, S. (2015). Gesture as a window onto communicative abilities: Implications for diagnosis and intervention. Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, 22, 50-60

Olswang, L.B., Rodriguez, B. & Timler, G. (1998). Recommending Intervention for Toddlers With Specific Language Learning Difficulties: We May Not Have All the Answers, But We Know a Lot. American Journal of Speech Language Pathology, 7, 23 – 32.

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