Your child’s language development

Your child’s language development

My 2-year-old grandson speaks only a handful of words clearly. His nursery teacher claims he is way behind compared to other 2-year-olds. He had many ear infections until he had tubes inserted. Could this be the reason for his delay, or are we just worrying needlessly? He is otherwise bright and cheerful, and tries very hard to articulate.

Children develop language at different times, but usually they have three words by age one (mama, dada and a “b” word). By age 1½ years, most children will have 4-10 words and begin to combine words. Children should have 50 words and start to use phrases by two years of age.

The first two years are very important for children to develop speech. When children have ear infections, they do not hear clearly. The eardrum cannot move well with infected fluid behind it. It is similar to listening to sounds underwater. Children will often understand what the sounds mean, but since sounds are muddled, they repeat them as they hear them.

Once having tubes inserted restores normal hearing, you may notice an improvement in the clarity of your grandson’s speech. You can encourage your grandson by repeating words that he says clearly. This helps him to know you understand what he is saying, but it also gives him the opportunity to hear the word spoken clearly. Talk with your grandson’s pediatrician about getting his hearing evaluated. If he continues to speak poorly, he may benefit from speech therapy. When therapy is provided earlier, children have a greater chance of gaining normal speech.

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