How many words should the average 16 month old say?

Brittany - posted on 07/12/2009 ( 7 moms have responded )

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My only child will be 16 months old on Tuesday (July 14th) and he barely says ten words, if that. He says Dada, Mum (only if he wants me, and I'm always around), doggie (which he shouts with joy because he loves dogs), utto (like whoops!)....he has said others words in the past but he only used them for one or two weeks. Words like car, truck, all done, thank you (which was said really clearly and he used for months but within the last month stopped), "its" (which was his way of saying our dog's name-Fritz). I repeat words, point to what I'm talking about, hand the objects to him and such. Is it normal to just have a toddler that doesn't talk much (his dad isn't a big talker)? Will the light bulb come on when he's closer to 2 or 3? Or is there more I should be doing? (I don't read to him every day but at least twice a week or so.) Could he have a speech problem or am I just expecting too much from him at his age?

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Rachel - posted on 07/13/2009

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I had the same problem. My first son never talked he was very smart but I just gave what he wanted and did not make him ask for it. I was very worried and took him to have his ears check. Everything was fine. Then one day I meet a little girl who was the same age. She held complete conversations I asked her mom how she was so talkative. Her mom said its because girls are more nosey and want to be in the gossip. I notice that my son would play by himself and didnt have to be the center of attention. So I stopped worrying and said he will talk when he is ready. Then when he turned three he just started saying what was on his mind. He is so smart even day care tells me that he is one of the smartest 3 year olds they have. I know how you feel I worried everyday. He has a two year old brother and he is starting to talk all the time. So another reason could be because he is the only child and just doesnt have other kids to talk too. Dont stress about how many words your 16 month old should say. He will just start talking one day and you will say man what was I worried about now I cant get him to stop. I hope this helps.

Rebekah - posted on 07/13/2009

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The average 16 month old should say any where between 3 to 5 words, according to American Pediatric Assoc.

My son is 10 months and he can say, "baba", "bubble", "uh-oh", "mama" and he's just now starting to get the hang of "dada".

They say boys are slower to speak than girls, so I wouldn't worry about it. Just keep doing what you're doing - pointing to stuff and repeating the word to him over and over, handing him objects and tell him what it is over and over, when he points to something tell him what it is, etc. Repetition is the key! :)

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I wouldn't worry about how many words your 16 month old can say, but I would keep an eye on it. My son didn't have more than 10 words at 18 months, and many he'd say for awhile and then not say again. By age 2 he only had 20 words, but he'd put some of them together so the doctors again didn't worry. The month before he turned 3, he started just talking your head off, so I didn't worry that most people couldn't understand him. At 4 1/2 his preschool teacher told me he has a major speech delay, so I took him in and he actually does! Looking back at all the videos we took of him, I now realize that he was "talking" we just couldn't understand what he was saying until he was 3. He only has a 22% accuracy rate now, at age 5, and has an IEP and gets services from the school. So my advice to you is to repeat everything he says to you or what you think he is saying, and if after age 2 it's still difficult for you to understand, or if he has less than 25 words you understand, take him in and request an evaluation. The school districts will give him speech therapy as young as 2 and 3, so that by the time he starts kinder, he'll be understood. I wish someone had told me that instead of he'll be fine, he's just the baby (he's my 3rd child), because then I would have pushed it harder at 2- 2/12 instead of waiting until he was already in school. It's just an articulation problem, and with work he's improving greatly, but it's during school hours and it takes away from instruction time. It just would have been easier to get it taken care of sooner.

Stori - posted on 07/15/2009

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If he has said words once and never again, I would bring that up at your next doctors app. My daughter did that, and she was quiet, played by herself then at 4 yrs. old, we found out she was hearing impaired.

Brittany - posted on 07/15/2009

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Thanks Suzanne! I will keep an eye (or ear) on it and see if he improves by 18 months or 2 years. I wasn't so worried about how many words a 16 month old should say but just the fact that he stopped saying words that he used to. And I know he is teething but why would words that used to be so clear be so slurred? too much drool?

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Brittany - posted on 07/13/2009

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Thanks ladies! I guess once our children start walking, we just expect them to be talking like little 5 year olds. And yes Rachel, he does play really well by himself. Thanks again.

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Boys talk later than girls. My son was closer to 2 before he could say a significant number of words. Even among girls, 16 months is pretty early to be saying more than a word here and a word there. They seem to have a big boom of words around 18 months to 2 years and then he'll be yacking your head off and you'll wish he'd hush!

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