When do toddlers (2 1/2) start talking in sentences?

Barb - posted on 08/08/2011 ( 61 moms have responded )

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My soon to be 2 1/2 grandson lives with us and says some words but not really sentences. He knows exactly what he wants and points to it or takes us to what he is asking for. He is a firstborn and stays home with mommy. He is very smart and does what you ask him to do. Should we be concerned about his vocabulary?

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Gretchen - posted on 08/09/2011

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The rule of thumb is that most children are speaking in short, simple sentences by the time they are your grandson's age. It does not necessarily mean that you should be concerned, because all children learn at a different rate. However, it is something your daughter should discuss with the pediatrician. It could be that s/he would suggest an evaluation, which would likely determine there is absolutely nothing wrong. But it could determine there is something wrong and the sooner you begin treatment, the better.

I also was a delayed talker. Quite delayed. By 4 I was still not speaking in sentences and what I did say could only be understood by my mother. It was discovered that I had severe hearing loss. I had surgery to restore my hearing when I was nearly 5 years old. But by then I had missed much of the language acquisition years. I had to go through speech therapy for 9 years until I could speak normally.

My advice? Get him checked. Just in case.

Katherine - posted on 08/08/2011

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My daughter is 2.5 and talks. She has an older sister though. If mom is allowing him to point instead of talk then she needs to start making him SAY the word. He probably already knows it but doesn't have to say it so he doesn't.

Now on the other hand my nephew didn't start talking until he was almost 3. And he had a big sister. It just depends. They all go at their own pace.

Jinny - posted on 01/31/2013

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My daughter gonna be 3 on April. Do you guys think she's fine with speaking or she needs help? She knows all the names of animals and she speaks clearly like ( I don't want it.I told you.come here.be careful. I don't know. I want this. I don't want this. Please. Big fish(more sub)swimming, jumpping, eating, crying, dancing, puppy is so cute. Where is it. I got it. What you gonna do.) And more and more.

Andreina - posted on 09/01/2011

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pediatricians and speach therapist say that at 2 yrs old a child should have a 50 word vocab and start putting 2 words together in sentence. instead of immediately giving him what he wants when he points say the name of the item two or three times and see if he repeats after you. *hope this helps.

Lindzie Beachy - posted on 08/30/2011

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my kids talked in between ages 2 and 3 some learn faster , some dont. can you try a speech therapist or first steps

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Medic - posted on 08/31/2011

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I think he has gotten away without having to talk so he does not feel the need to talk. My older child spoke in short little phrases by 18 months and by 2 in full conversations but I was really strict on him with making him ask for everything. My 19 month old does not talk as much as her brother did because she gets more done for her due to her brother and dad but she can say a few sentences.

Jennifer - posted on 08/31/2011

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My son began talking in full sentences shortly after 2, he did have an older sister that talked alot so he picked up alot from her. Both of my kids started talking early and speak fairly clearly, compared to kids their age. My husband and I never talked "baby talk" to them. We always talked to them as if they were adults, just smaller versions, but always kept things age appropriate.

Rebecca - posted on 08/30/2011

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My son turned 2 a couple weeks ago and does not talk in sentences. I spoke with his doctor (he had to have tubes put in both ears because he was born with perforated ear drums.) Anyways from what you are saying he knows what he wants and if he gets what he wants from pointing then he knows that is working for him... lol there smarter then we think! I don't think you should worry as long as everyone is working together and with him on his speech he will do it when he is ready. It will seem like it is almost overnight with there constantly growing vocabulary.

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By two, my son was speaking in words and 5-7 word sentences, but was 'lagging' on his articulation. By 2.5, he was speaking in paragraphs, but still 'lagging' in articulation. I had his hearing evaluated. When that was fine he had a full evaluation from Easter Seals. He didn't qualify for their services, but did qualify through another program when he turned 3.

There may be no real problems, but since the bulk of language development occurs by/before the age of 5.... I'd rather be proactive and find out it's not needed than to take a wait and see approach and find out I should've gotten him help earlier. :)

Robyn - posted on 08/27/2011

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I personally would play it safe and get a speech assessment done. I questioned my daughters speech from 2-3 and then finally my doctor said for piece of mind get it done and low and behold we have a speech delay. The wait list through public health was 6-8 mos. Right now we are paying for private therapy while we still wait. She is now 3 1/2. With that being said there is no exact time milestone for speech as there is with crawling/walking etc. But if you are concerned it could be for good reason or it could just be timing, either way it wouldn't hurt.

Shaylynn - posted on 08/23/2011

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Honestly if i were you i would start making him talk. Its only going to hurt him in the long run. My daughter is going to be 6 in a few months and she had that same problem. She was about 2-3 and pointed to what she wanted or would point and grunt. It got to the point that she didnt get that extra snack or the toy on the top shelf unless she made an attempt to try to say what she wanted. Now after months of grueling whining over that she now speaks like a ten year old with an extensive voacbulary. Believe me it will benefit him in the long run you just have to keep up with it.

Jillian - posted on 08/16/2011

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My 2 1/2 year old daughter will talk all day but it mostly sounds like babbling with a few words thrown in there that I can understand. My mother who had 5 kids tells me its not normal for her not be speaking but I met a mother at the park the other day that also had a 2 1/2 year old and she only said 3 words and the dr told her it was ok...Im wbeginning to wonder whos right! Hopefully my daughter gets along fine. She seems to be picking up new words everyday!

Kathryn - posted on 08/15/2011

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My son is 2 and 4 months and says few words (less than 30). Doctor said because he understands everything I tell him and communicates perfectly in all other ways, not to worry. If you're truly concerned, have him evaluated, it will either give you peace of mind or give him the help he needs :-) Good luck!

Rebecca - posted on 08/13/2011

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There is nothing wrong at all. There are children that age who are only just learning to talk. He can be understood so that's the main thing. I'm guessing he can do other things.
While I think my youngest child was born talking(!) he was later doing physical things whereas my oldest was walking by 9 months but didn't talk until a lot later.
Your grandson clearly understands instruction and can use more than one method to be understood himself. The "average" 2 year old can put 2 or 3 word sentences together (but even if they can, doesn't mean they will if they don't have to!). There is nothing at all to worry about with your grandson.

Jasmine - posted on 08/11/2011

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My son sounds around the same age and was hardly talking at all, then all of a sudden he is talking properly and we cant quiet him!!! LOL We literally went on holidays for a month and when we left he wasnt talking, when we got home he was, his grandparents could not believe the difference. It might have been that we had that intensive time with him with no distractions to really encourage him, but it seems to be like all things with kids, when the time is right it just 'clicks'! In my experience a child who has hearing loss (as did a close friend) comes across as distracted, does not do what you ask them to do straight up...but certainly worth getting this checked as well! I would be doing as others suggest, asking him to use words when he says something. I also repeat what my kids say and, as stringing the words together seems more the issue than actually speaking, repeat the words then use them in a sentence, you will probably find he starts to copy you! Good luck!

Pamela - posted on 08/10/2011

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Each of us is unique. Perhaps this child is simply not one who will express verbally so much right away. However, if you are talkative, naming things in the environment as you show them to the child is one way to begin.

When the child shows an interest in speaking then helping to teach word formation can be done by placing the palm f the child's hand to your lips as you say a word, then pressing that same palm to your child's lips as they try to say the word. This kind of repetition when teaching toddlers to talk often works wonders. My sons were taught using this method and could clearly answer the phone when they were 3 years old by saying "---------------residence, ----------- speaking". Many of my friends were amazed at their clarity at such a young age.

Kristie-Lee - posted on 08/10/2011

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I have a set of twins. 1 could talk in sentences since before she was 2. Maybe only little sentences, but still enough to understand. The other twin however, didnt speak much at all. To the point of someone asking me if she was mute! But now (they will be 3 in November), I cant keep either of them quiet. My quiet twin has come in leaps and bounds. I know that she is the one to sit and observe before doing anything, and maybe she did the same with her talking too! But I was not concerned at all. I knew she would talk when it was right for her. If you are concerned about it though go and see the Dr.

Heather - posted on 08/10/2011

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I believe that my information said 2 word sentences by two and 4-5 by three is average

Kathy - posted on 08/10/2011

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My son was 2 and had very few words. We decided speech therapy was necessary based on how he was developing and his level of frustration. We also found singing was very useful. I believe it really helped us help him. He is now six and is fine. We are engaged in the same path with our younger boy who has been receiveing speech services for two years. Ultimately, if you are concerned, consider a speech and audiological evaluation to see what a professional might think. Go with your gut.

RITA - posted on 08/10/2011

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My son is just about to turn two this weekend and has been saying phrases and recently complete sentences. The way I got him to do that was by telling him how to say things or repeating back to him what I understood he was asking for. Reading to them also helps a lot because they absorb everything around them and the reading would help develop his vocabulary. However, I would not be concerned just yet. Every child is different... Now if he regressed or has speech problems then I would be concerned. Just pay attention to how he speaks and practice with him how to ask for things. He'll get it!

Vera - posted on 08/10/2011

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I wouldn't be concerned, but I would encourage him to talk more. If he points to something he wants, don't just let him have it. Ask him what he wants and pretend you don't understand until he can actually say what it is. I had to do the same with my daughter when she was younger.

Wenda - posted on 08/10/2011

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my mother, with a high IQ of 165, did not speak a word until after her 3rd birthday. She had told me how her parents were so concerned about her, asking doctors, etc, what to do about it. She has an older sister who spoke early. No worries about your grandson if all other aspects of his growth and development are within the normal range.

Sandy - posted on 08/10/2011

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Both our boys talked early and never did the "baby talk" because they were in a day care and were never spoken to in "baby talk". They heard enough adults and older children talking that they learned to talk that way from the beginning.

I'd suggest when he wants something and just points at things that you make him say the word. Use the word in a sentence. Repeat the sentence. And talk to him as you would an older child. I had a cousins that were twins. One had her own language that only her sister knew. She didn't speak "English" until almost 5 because her sister interpreted!

Vickylynn - posted on 08/10/2011

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No you shouldn"t. a lot of children esp. boys are late than girls.i have 4 boys and a girl...my boys are the same...boys are always late even our speech doctor and ped doctor will tell you the same thing.when he starts talking,you" get tired hearing and listening.....enjoy your son..

Jan - posted on 08/10/2011

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My son was 3 3mos old when we realized he wasn't saying sentences yet. we took him to the doctor and he had a 3 different things in the brain that was stopping him from saying words and sentences one of them was verbal appoxcia which is a brain delay of words and the other two I don't remember it has been 17 years had to take my son to a speech therapist and for about 6 weeks or so then he started to talk alot. Now he is 19 and all he does is talk..lol good luck you might want to get it checked out

Alison - posted on 08/09/2011

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My son went to speech therapy because he was only saying single words at nearly 3. I don't think it really did any good and he was just a late starter. He's 17 now, not the most talkative guy in the world but does well in school and hasn't been held back by his slow start!

Sara - posted on 08/09/2011

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My son turned 2 in July and he still only says a few words on a regular basis...sometimes he says sentences, but mostly just words here & there...already took him to the hearing dr, etc...everything is fine...Dr said that boys talk alot later than girls do. I tell him to tell me what he wants and as long as he tries I let him have it, but sometimes he tries to tell me & I cant figure it out which just upsets him. I would tell your daughter to take him to the dr for the tests, just incase there is something wrong with his hearing, mainly because its easier to correct while they are younger than waiting, if their is anything wrong, if not you get peace of mind! To me thats worth ALOT! :0)

JENNIFER - posted on 08/09/2011

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NO you shouldnt be concerned my oldest was almost three when she started saying full sentences. The oldest child always seems to talk in full sentences latter in life then a younger sibling

Cindy - posted on 08/09/2011

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My son will be 3 in October. He is an only child and does stay at home with me. He has been delayed in several aspects of development, but it is now just speech. In speaking with his doctor, we have been to a speech pathologist and had his hearing tested. His hearing is fine and the speech pathologist just got us to HI after 6 months. I keep a list of the words he knows and we are up to 63, which is much better than the 20 or so he knew at his 2 1/2 year well check up. He now goes to preschool and his his vocabulary is growing. I have also noticed that if I ask him what things are in books, he knows what they are, he just hasn't had the need to use the words before. The doctor says that we are fine as long as his vocabulary is growing. I wouldn't worry just yet. (Although, I know that it is easier said than done!!)

Angela - posted on 08/09/2011

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My son is 2 1/2 (he'll be 3 in November), and his pediatrician was very concerned about his vocabulary so he referred us to a program that works with the local school district. They sent a team out of about 5 or 6 people to evaluate him in all areas of development and determined that he is well above average in all areas except verbal communication (he only scored a 12 month level when he was 29 months) so they began weekly speech therapy and they come to our home which is great! They recommended that we teach him some sign language (which he learned about 20 words within a week) so that he isn't getting frustrated in trying to tell us what he needs/wants. They wanted us teaching him signs for things that he asks for (points out) on a regular basis; ball, mama, dada, drink, milk, juice, bird, more, please, thank you, bath...stuff like that. I found the signs online and it was very easy to do. They said that when he tries to tell us something and we didn't understand it just made him frustrated and give up trying. Since we began signing he has been a lot happier and has picked up several new words that he is verbally saying. They will re-evaluate him a month before his 3rd birthday (since the program ends when they turn 3) and if he hasn't made much progress than the school district is brought in and he is automatically accepted to pre-school and their speech program. I don't know where you live (i'm in California), but I was told that this is a nation wide program and it's all free so it might be a good idea to ask his pediatrician.

Heidi - posted on 08/09/2011

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I wouldn't be concerned. All kids are different. Just as long as you can see that he is actively trying and knows what he wants i wouldn't be worried. My niece and nephew are the same age and she started speaking in sentences before he did. My youngest niece and my son are 8 months apart in age and she started speaking in sentences waaay before he did. Even though he just turned 2 in may and does speak in sentences more and more every day, she did much quicker. i wouldn't worry.

Matula - posted on 08/09/2011

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I wouldn't be too worried just yet. At 2 1/2 my daughter was the same, but now she is 3 1/2 and will not stop talking! And the things she comes out with! I think people push there kids too much. I'm not saying that as a nasty thing but the expectaions we have on our kids is huge. They will get it in their own time.

Melissa - posted on 08/09/2011

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I would encourage him to use his words. He is 2 1/2 so he should be using his words. My daughter is a year on August 15th and is already saying uh oh, buh bye, nana, pa pa, ma ma and correctly using them, and calls her brother guck guck, because she can't say his name, which is Jacob. We are always using words to her. We have never used baby words to either of my kids. With my son when he's wanted something, if it was Juice we would start with juice, then develop it to juice please, and then can i have juice please, and keep developing phrases, and he is 2 1/2 now so should be able to say more. There are 18 month children at my daughters daycare that i was hearing say "up please" if you request it, in a positive way your grandson will start to develop his language. It may also be worth talking to the doctor about getting some speech therapy too to help catch your grandson up to where he should be.

Rachelle - posted on 08/09/2011

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Help encourage talking. My daughter used to try raising her hands up to me and grunting/whining to be picked up. It was annoying imo so I first said that I wouldn't pick her up until she said "upa" which was easy for her when she was still learning ANY words. Then as she started getting words sown I said she needed to say Up Please to be picked up... it came out "uppeas" but it was a lot better than reaching up and grunting at me. Kids can catch up and exceed others with a late start, I have a friend who's youngest sister was babied because she was the youngest girl after the middle girl died in a drowning accident at a church event. But now she has caught up and speaks quite eloquently. I would just encourage the words to ask for things instead of just pointing and giving them what they want. Not just for your ease of communication, but in a daycare setting, and eventually school, the authority figures will not usually respond to pointing to ask for items. They will encourage speaking and it's much easier to start this at home.

Rachel - posted on 08/09/2011

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In my area, we evaluate all children 0-3 and we are a coalition between the school system and department of health and human services. It depends on the area, but most areas have early intervention, just some are absolutely free and some go through insurance and charge you your copay. But they come to your home and work in the natural environment. Maryland is a great state for early intervention because they are known as a "birth mandate" state, where you get all services (Speech, OT, PT, Vision, Hearing, Special Instruction, Case Management and Social Work) for free.

Rachel - posted on 08/09/2011

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I am sure the vocabulary is in there. You have to figure out what he does give you words for and then help him expand his vocabulary and length of utterance. The basic issue for most kids is that they dont need words to get what they want, so start by putting the things he needs in sight, but not accessible. You can play ignorant and when he reaches toward something, get him the wrong thing (i.e. if he is reaching for the bananas, then give him an apple). Then, when he negates what you have given him, get the right thing and model the language (oh! apple, you want an APPLE), with emphasis on targeted vocabulary. You can do the same thing by giving him choices - do you want the blocks or the cars? Oh, the CARS, you want the CARS, here are your CARS. I find that the large tupperware that you can see through (or gladware, no reason to get to expensive), is excellent for putting toys in, so they can see it, but they need you to open it or help open it after modelling the words open and help. When you read books with him, focus less on the story and more on just pointing to pictures and naming them (Look! A tree! etc.). When in doubt, call your local early intervention program and get a speech evaluation. Children at 30 months old should be talking in phrases - this is not to say that he doesn't understand all that you are saying, he may just not be expressing all that he knows. Good luck and thanks for being such a great grandparent.

Avril - posted on 08/09/2011

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Hi I am a speech and language therapist in the midlands. Typically children of this age should be linking 2-3 words together and have quite a good vocabulary. Does his mum go to a children's centre as they are a good place to go to for advice or a health visitor. Speech and language therapists in most areas are also happy to talk through concerns over the phone and if you want to help you to make out a referral. Hope this helps

Diane - posted on 08/09/2011

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I don't think so. My son didn't start really saying anything until he was about 3.5. Then I couldn't keep him quiet, but he only talked when he had something to say. He certainly wasn't a babbler and took alot of time thinking about things, but not talking.

Heather - posted on 08/09/2011

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If he has insurance, you might be able to get him evaluated for speech therapy! The public school system won't evaluate him until he is 3 years old. My son was the same way. He is on his second year of speech therapy and now he is talking up a storm!

Catherine - posted on 08/09/2011

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I would personally talk to his doctor. He should have a good vocab and be using two-word phrases on a regular basis, at the very least. My son is just over 2 1/2 and is in speech therapy. He has come a tremedous distance in the last 7 months but had fewer than 10 words and no sentences before starting therapy. Keep in mind that children may use some sentences or phrases on occasion (vs all the time), and this can still be considered part of a developmental delay be consistency is a key element. He may not have a problem at all, but I would personally get things checked out. Following through has helped my son greatly.

Brittany - posted on 08/09/2011

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No but I would start making him ask for things instead of pointing kids grow different and they go through phases. He understands what he wants and everything you say to him so he is behind maybe just found a way to communicate (the pointing) and it works and Im sure its frustrating when kids that age talk and we adults dont understand what kids are saying, my 2 1/2 yo sons kids very frustrated with me when I dont understand what he is saying and react properly to it.

Brooke - posted on 08/09/2011

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My son is 2.5 and he had tubes put in right before his second birthday. Before that he could only say 3 words.., the speech therapist. Comes to the house once a week but i think daycare is really helping him

Bernadine - posted on 08/09/2011

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If you are concerned at all then have him evaluated. He could be on target or he could have a delay. The other thing to consider with language delays is that it could be their hearing. All concerns of this nature should be brought to your pediatrician who can refer you appropriately based on your specific child. I do agree that you can also encourage them to talk more by not responding to pointing etc...telling them to "use your words". I would not brush off this concern, i know others who have and had a 5 year old still not talking much to find out they had ear problems and needed drainage and surgery etc...Trust your instincts and rule out any other causes for the delay - such as hearing!

Sonja - posted on 08/09/2011

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As long as you do/give everything he indicates, he won't find the need to communicate! Ask him to use the words he knows and motivate him by asking wrong or absurd questions (make it a game) to see if he knows the words. Use the right words then and when it's the right word, encourage him to repeat it!

Charlie - posted on 08/09/2011

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my son is 4 years old and he was the same at that age and still isnt talking in sentences i spoke 2 my health visitor about it when he was 3 and she referred him 2 a speech theropist which led to him going 2 a nursery that had a speech and lanuguage unit he still isnt talkin ing sentences but he is saying alot more now then he did befor , i wouldnt really worry to much about it but i would sujest talking 2 your health visitor if u do have any concerns :) GOOD LUCK

Malika - posted on 08/09/2011

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You should talk to him as much as possible and get him to hear people talking at home. We lived overseas when my son was at this age and he didnt speak much when he was 2 1/2 years as he was most the time with the nanny. However when we moved back to our home country he started moving with the relatives and the grand parents he really picked up talking sentences.. Now he is very talkative and recently his pre school teacher said he has a good vocabulary and advanced language skills. You may show him some picture books and teach him the words and make him repeat them to you.

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it depends on the child. my son is 2 at the end of august and he can use some full sentences but mostly still talks in 2 and 3 word mini phrases. but he goes to daycare and of the 10 kids there who are all 2 or about to turn 2, only him and 1 girl use sentences, the rest just use a few words or point so it seems like your grandson is about average. if you are really concerned though, you can always ask your daughter about getting his speech evaluated by the doctor

Laura - posted on 08/09/2011

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my son is 3 in november. health vistor sed he wasnt talking enough. he knows exacly what he wants and get it through to you by sayin words he knows and doing actions and pointing. he can also understand everything you tell him.
but we had someone from surestart come and show me ways to encourage more talking. after this he still wasnt talking so he went to a speech therapist and she sed he is behind but as he does say words and understands, she said he's ok until he's 3. if he not talking then she will see him more often.
he also had a hearing test as this can cause delay, but this came back fine.
surestart have also adviced me to see if i can get him into nursery early, as this can sometimes help. and 2 years old can get 10hrs a week free in a private nursery if they have a reason like talking or behaviour.
i'ld suggest talking to a doctor or go to your local surestart if your worried.

Chanae - posted on 08/08/2011

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My first child was very advanced & a great talker before even 2. But with my second child I notice he isn't as good at communicating, I soon worked out it is because we do it all for him...Instead of giving him things when he points I tell him what they are two or three times he is only 15minths and already he is repeating it straight away and starting to ask for things alot more. Also had my son alone for the first time the other day, I realised how much time I used to spend reading and playing one on one with my oldest child and am now making a bigger effort to sit down with him and read everyday, he loves the books and has learnt quite a few things already.

Carmina - posted on 08/08/2011

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i wouldnt worry about it, my best friends a child worker and says your lucky if they start stringing words together at 2 years old, it really varies. my son is 21 months old and is only saying single words he sounds exactly like your grandson :) i dont think my son will be speaking sentences for a while yet!

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