My 22 month old says a dozen or so words perfectly but otherwise just rambles on in his own little language. The doctor and teachers said we need to get him talking a bit more at this point. What should we do?

asked 06 Jan '10, 21:05

Melissa%20Davis's gravatar image

Melissa Davis
accept rate: 0%


+1 good question.

(07 Jan '10, 01:17) Chris W. Rea

I bore two completely different daughters - the eldest was walking before she hit 11 months but was talking at just before 2 years. The younger one was walking at 19 months but was talking before she could grasp a toy (OK so I exaggerated that last bit) - but all that to say, first: remember that children's motor skills develop and progress at different rates. Your son may just be more physical than verbal at this particular stage of his development.

That being said, your doctor and teachers have suggested to try to get him talking more. Some suggestions might be:

  • read books, and ask your son questions along the way, such as, "how do you think Elmo feels about that?" or ask him what he thinks will happen next in the story.

  • replace the games you would normally play with him that focus on non-verbal (i.e. "show mommy where you put your socks", or "what sound does a pig make?", with games that would see you pointing to objects and having him name them, or make a face (sad, happy, mad) and have him identify the feeling you're displaying.

  • narrate your actions - if he's sitting in the kitchen nibbling on a snack while you fold laundry, tell him about what you're doing, and why "I like to fold the socks together so that Daddy always has a matching pair. I fold the towels this way so that they hang nicely in the bathroom."

  • be wary that you don't inundate your son with too much vocabulary. In the same way that Inuits have over 100 words to describe types of snow, there is such thing as too many words for a 22-month-old to digest. Try to remain consistent: choose one word and stick with it. Always use "remote" - don't also describe it as the TV control and the converter. Use dresser or bureau or chest of drawers. Don't bother with types of cereal - just call anything that comes from one of those tall boxes and that we eat in the morning with milk "cereal" - You get my drift :)

Good luck!


answered 06 Jan '10, 21:40

YMCbuzz's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

edited 06 Jan '10, 21:55


Agree with everything except the last bullet point -- maybe that's good advice, or maybe it's better to bury them under an avalanche of language -- if it were me, I'd like to see some research before reducing language in any way (including vocabulary), since there's so much evidence that kids verbal development generally is enhanced the more they are immersed in language.

(07 Jan '10, 00:29) lgritz

I also found this great info at PBS that may help, called Talking Milestones: http://www.pbs.org/parents/readinglanguage/toddler/talking_milestone_toddler.html

(07 Jan '10, 01:08) YMCbuzz

I agree with Igritz. In the book Bright from the Start, the author recommends speaking in "parentese", which is regular language, but spoken slowly, with longer vowel sounds, emphasized enunciation, & higher pitch. Most parents naturally speak that way, and neuroscience research has shown that it helps babies to learn language. However, the author also says that you should not speak constantly, give the baby a chance to respond & learn the give & take of conversation. She also says that babies need some down time, so you don't have to fill all 6 or 7 waking hours with constant talk.

(07 Jan '10, 02:06) Scottie T

Your other bullet points are excellent suggestions!

(07 Jan '10, 02:09) Scottie T

+1 but http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eskimo_words_for_snow

(07 Jan '10, 04:36) MrChrister

Nicely-played, MrChrister :-)

(07 Jan '10, 04:50) YMCbuzz

+1 great points made!last bullet point could be valid for bilingual families maybe?

(07 Jan '10, 05:57) Emi
showing 5 of 7 show 2 more comments

My daughter started talking later than we expected. She's just over 3 now and talking quite a bit, but when she was two I remember being surprised to hear my co-worker describing the things his daughter was saying – and his daughter was six months younger than mine! Progress varies widely.

Anyway, when my daughter asks me a question, I pay attention and give her as best an answer I can, instead of just a simple answer to satisfy. I like to think that if she gets good explanations, she'll enjoy talking more. I also ask her questions sometimes when she's playing with her toys; e.g. "What is Dora doing?" or "Which is your favorite?" etc.

Also, when we would bring her bottle of milk around, earlier she would point to it and say "unh unh unh!" or "I want it!" Instead of just giving it to her, I'd hold it up and say "Can you say 'Daddy, may I have the bottle please?'" and I'd persist until she'd asked the way I requested. Now she's talking more... and she's polite, most of the time :-)


answered 07 Jan '10, 01:17

Chris%20W.%20Rea's gravatar image

Chris W. Rea
accept rate: 34%


+1 for gentle persistance that has paid off!

(07 Jan '10, 05:50) Emi

My son was a later talker. We still work on it all the time - I speak in regular language, but slow it down and use a lot of repetition - a lot. Sometimes I'll say something 5 times, repeating, working with him to repeat it as well.

I talk out loud a lot, even with little tasks like changing a diaper or cooking.

What I found really increased his speaking outloud and repeativeness was letter introduction. When we introduced letters and their sounds, he really really took a leap forward.

Best of luck.


answered 07 Jan '10, 23:32

Rebecca's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

+1 for repetition, slowing down at times and working with him!

(08 Jan '10, 17:39) Emi

answered 07 Jan '10, 06:41

Lewis's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

+1 Nice article. (Singing to them is a great idea in my opinion)

(07 Jan '10, 09:11) Emi
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Asked: 06 Jan '10, 21:05

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Last updated: 07 Jan '10, 23:32