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How verbal at 17 months?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi, not sure if I belong in babies or toddlers (that wonderful inbetween year) but I'm starting to get a bit worried about my DS's speech, or total lack thereof. He really doesn't have any words to speak of, everything is "eh". He can say "boom!" (his favorite) for when things fall down or get thrown, it sounds like "dunnn!" and "dada". That's really it. I know there's a wide range for normal, but is he starting to fall outside it? He understands many, many words and babbles constantly, interacts a lot. Just no language. I'd love to get some feedback about what's normal at this age, since I don't have much experience with toddlers!

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 20
I don't think ds said much at that age. Maybe cat, ball, dada and mama. That's about it. He had a real language spurt around 24 months and by 2 and a half he was very verbal, and has been ever since. He's bilingual and he's often seemed ahead of his monolingual peers. Once he actually started talking he really took off. So I really wouldn't worry. I think it's normal not to have many words at this age.
post #3 of 20
I remember that an 18 month old "should" have 60 words un prompted words.I remember that I was concerned about my first babe, and so I was told to carry a paper and pen around for a day and copy all of the words he said unprompted ( don't say, " Say boom!"). I was totally surprised and he totally had over 60 words in his vocabulary. You might be surprised how many actual words he has.
post #4 of 20
You can use the PBS development tracker:


At eighteen months, the average monolingual child has about 68 words. I probably would not worry about it too much though since you say that he understands you all well. Some kids are late bloomers. If it bothers you, talk to your ped at the next well-baby visit and see what s/he thinks.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks mamas! I was serious when I said that he literally doesn't have any words other than boom and dada. Other than that it's all grunting... like "eh". Oh, and he says "lalala" when we're reading the Sandra Boynton book. I definitely plan to discuss it with his ped next week, just thought I'd get some feedback here first, to have a better idea of the range of 'normal'.
post #6 of 20
You really don't need to start worrying until 2 years old. My daughter was at the same stage at 17 months. Only now is she starting to say new words frequently, and she's almost 20 months old.

He'll suddenly start saying new words all the time, probably when you don't expect it!
post #7 of 20
I don't think you really need to worry much, but I would make sure you're pointing to things and saying their names a lot, toddlers tend to learn nouns before most other words. There's something very concrete about something's name that most toddlers really like.
post #8 of 20
My 17 month old has a pretty huge vocabulary for his age which has been quite startling since my first son didn't speak much before 2.5 and didn't start conversing till over age 3. Every child develops in their own time. We had DS1 evaluated at 3.5 and he was on track and they didn't see a need for any type of speech therapy.
post #9 of 20
my 17 month old pretty much says mama and dada! haha but we are bilingual and he understand so much, follows directions well, listens etc. he does shake his head for yes or no, used to say no quite a bit actually.

but yeah just a lot of grunts, ehs and screams. fwiw i am not in the least bit worried. and my dd had boat loads of words at this age.
post #10 of 20
My boys were the same way. DS1 had hardly any words at 18 months, he spoke in his own gibberish. Then one morning, a few months before his 3rd birthday, he woke up and started talking in complete sentences (he greeted me that morning with, "Good morning, mama. How are you?"). It was as if he'd been talking all along, it was the craziest thing ever. We still think that he was just waiting until he had it all figured out in his head, KWIM? DS2 didn't have many words at 18 months either and now at 29 months, he's had a HUGE vocab explosion in the last 2 months. DH was a later talker and the boys seem to follow that. My DD was the complete opposite, by 18 months she was talking in complete sentences... and according to my mom, I was doing the same thing at 18 months.

Honestly, he sounds within the realm of normal to me. I wouldn't worry until age 2. If he can understand most things you say (simple things like, "Bring me the ball, please."), then I wouldn't be overly worried. It will come. He could be like my DS1 and is waiting until he gets it all figured out, you know? And then the only time he won't talk is when he's sleeping and then you'll kind of wish for those days of limited vocabulary!
post #11 of 20
My 17mo old only says about 20 words but only uses about 5 regularly. Her fav words are more, nurse,mama, dada ....that's it lol. She signs please, more, and nurse.
post #12 of 20
I think it's within the range of totally normal, especially for boys. My nephew is 17 months old and is very communicative, but has very few "words". His daycare sent a note home saying that his parents could try forcing him to use "words" by not being as responsive to his actions/gestures/sounds, since he is capable of making sounds/words for what he wants...that seems a little odd, but I think the idea of repeating the word a couple times when your kid uses a gesture or sound with clear meaning might help.
post #13 of 20
My pediatrician told me that at 2, they want them to have 50 words.

FWIW, DS had about 100 words at 1.5, and he was STILL a late talker. He still has a bit of a delay at almost four. He just stalled for the longest time. It's not much of a delay anymore, and we never did speech therapy or anything, because he is developing fine on his own, just slower, but still, obviously talking early can be a poor indicator.

DD is 17 months and mostly says, "that", points, and nods yes or no. Oh, and she says mama incessently. I couldn't be less concerned.
post #14 of 20
2 months ago, when DS was 17 months, I was just as worried as you mama. He had very few words -- and the ones he had and had first used at even before a year he had completely abandoned.

I made sure to speak to our pedi. about this at the 18 month appointment, and he did not appear too concerned, but mainly because when he asked about his receptive language, we conveyed that he understood everything, including some words in Spanish. I guess some of the literature says that as long as they have solid receptive language at this age, they are very/more likely to catch up later on their expressive language?

At any rate, in the last month alone (post 18 months), it's amazing how many new words he's picked up. I don't want to make him sound like a chatty cat or anything, but he definitely adds news words almost every day. He mainly still uses only the first syllable for longer words, but what I'm trying to say is that for some kids, a bit of an explosion happens after 18 months.
post #15 of 20
My ds did not really start talking until he was almost 3! He had some words, but didn't use them very often. My pediatrician said that if he said them once it counted AND she said that baby signs counted too. So we were watchful, but not worried sick. Now he is 5 and never shuts up!

But I think there is also a wide range of normal. My dd at 21 months talks constantly when we are at home and can say just about anything you ask her to say. She routinely speaks in sentences. (and seems like a genius compared to her brother at this age, but I think that is just b/c of her verbal ability - he was just storing it all up in his head first!)

Good luck
post #16 of 20
Is his focus on something other than words? Is he a very physical child, does he like intricate activities (fine motor skills)? I remember DS1 only saying about 20 words at 2 1/2, but he could identify every letter of the alphabet and the sound each letter made, he could ID a wide variety of colors, shapes, he could follow multi-step directions, and was very interested in learning. He was very slow to talk, but now at nearly 4 1/2 he has a very normal vocabulary.
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by sewaneecook View Post
Is his focus on something other than words? Is he a very physical child, does he like intricate activities (fine motor skills)? I remember DS1 only saying about 20 words at 2 1/2, but he could identify every letter of the alphabet and the sound each letter made, he could ID a wide variety of colors, shapes, he could follow multi-step directions, and was very interested in learning. He was very slow to talk, but now at nearly 4 1/2 he has a very normal vocabulary.
Yes, he is intensely physical! Always moving and doing. When he has something to do with his hands (especially something he's not supposed to do, and somehow he knows) it can keep him absorbed for a long time. He was a late walker, so he's only been walking for about 6-8 weeks now, so maybe that has been taking priority?

In response to the other posts, he obviously understands a lot, follows directions (i.e. go get your sippy cup, bring me your shoes, where's the cat?) and copies some sounds. Thanks for the reassurance!
post #18 of 20
I don't remember 17 months too clearly. But at 18 months, my kids were at widely different places, with language.

DD1: had no words at all. Not a one. She didn't say anything at all beyond babbling, until she was 19 months. She's fine- she's six now and reads fluently and speaks clearly. By two years old, she was using sentences.

DD2: was using full sentences at eighteen months-- clearly. She is 3 1/2 now and lisps a bit, and is often difficult to understand. Her language is probably the least mature of my three kids, at three years old. Which goes to show you that early talking doesn't translate into more advanced language later on.

DS: was my "average" kid for language. At 18 months, he had about fifty words, but no sentences yet. A lot of his words only me and DH could understand. He started with the two-word phrases around two years old, and more complex sentences a few months later. At 3 1/2 now, his language development is still remarkably average for his age. (Although he has an extensive vocabulary about motor vehicles that maybe surpasses the average!)
post #19 of 20
my son is delayed in his speech and at almost 20 months still only says maybe 5 words we can understand which are no mama dada lady,eat. which is actually only 5. and he tries to say ball and help me.
post #20 of 20
My son had ZERO words until just after his second b-day. We did do sign language, which really saved a lot of frustration. He was really advanced in some areas (spacially) and understood language just fine so I didn't worry about it. He's now a really normal 6yo. I would say that you're still within a normal range for not talking. Good luck!
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