Q: My two year old is not speaking yet. He seems to understand me, and we know what he wants, so I’m thinking he will just grow out of it. My pediatrician told me it’s fine to wait and see. Do I need to be concerned?
A: Two is an amazing age. Children start to form their own opinions, they try to become more independent, and they still need to come back to Mommy (Ima) to check in every once in a while. Two is also a massive stage of developmental growth, especially in the area of speech and language development. Between two and three typically developing children will:
– Move from speaking 50 words to having a word for almost every important item in their life
– Move from following one step commands to following 2-3 step commands, for example: “Go to your room, find your shoes, and bring them to me.”
– Go beyond speaking in single words to putting 3 words together
-Gain the consonant sounds k, g, f, t, d, and n
-Start to understand prepositions (in, on, under, etc.)
-Become active communicators in their environment
The most amazing thing is that at this stage, parents and caregivers can do a lot to aid their child in his/her development. Language is everywhere, and language can be increased when walking down the street, driving in the car, bathing, eating, etc.!
An example of this would include speaking about what you see when going out for a Shabbat stroll. “Look at that tree—that one is tall!” “Do you see across the street—the baby is in the stroller, and her big brother is walking next to the stroller. Mommy is pushing the stroller.” Bath time and changing times are a great place to work on body parts and clothing identification. Meal time can be used to work on requesting. (Mommy: “You want more potatoes?” Child: “Po.” Mommy: “Great job, I heard potatoes, here you go.”)
Whether or not you work or are home with your toddler, daily routines are also a great time to add some language. Singing familiar songs, and anything that rhymes, is also great for language development. And of course, a bedtime story is the best. At this stage, 2 year olds can start looking at books with more than one picture on each page and identify what they see. This is the time when reading books over and over again can be very helpful. There is so much language to gain in the world, as long as children receive the proper foundation. Speech and language form the basis for later academic skills, and without the proper foundation, a child could miss out on this critical window.
If you are concerned, my best advice would be to reach out for a consultation with a speech and language pathologist, and set up an initial evaluation. Most insurances cover the evaluation and any necessary treatment sessions. With something as important as language development, please don’t wait and see. You are your child’s number one advocate!!