Can’t talk? Won’t talk!

A toddler who just won't talk.

I’ve touched upon this subject in previous posts, but it’s still bothering me so here we go again. Dylan is now 21 months old but still not talking.

The thing that’s really getting to me isn’t his inability to speak, however. Both Kate and I are pretty sure that he can. It’s more his apparent refusal to do so.

It’s infuriating. He’s a very bright little lad and understands an awful lot. We’re always asking him to pick up or point to things to see if he recognises the relevant words. And, most of the time, he’s spot on.

He knows the names of several colours, toys, animals, types of food, body parts, items of furniture, things in the garden and so on. If anything, he has an enviable vocabulary for a child of his age. He just needs to start saying the bloody words!

He also nods and shakes his head when asked questions and even ‘replies’ with sounds of the correct intonation and number of syllables.

Much like the Clangers used to, which is kind of odd as, due to a hearing problem I had when I was a child, I sounded like Soup Dragon when I spoke. I digress.

He doesn’t have any of the problems that parents are told to look out for when their children aren’t speaking by a certain age, so there are no major worries on that front. There’s nothing wrong with his hearing either.

He knows when there are biscuits in the room however quiet and stealthy we are with opening them. He’s good with eye contact too.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his confidence either. He’s very direct about what he wants and has no qualms about grabbing our hands and trying to guide us to whatever it may be. No, he’s just being awkward.

He gets a mischievous look in his eye when we ask him something, before delivering his ‘uhh uhh’ response.

Sometimes he forgets himself and we get what we are pretty sure is a ‘yeah’ or a ‘Peppa’ – of the animated porcine variety – while he also seemed to say ‘babba’ when he first saw Xander, but these utterances are relatively few and far between.

We hoped that the arrival of Xander and Dylan’s inevitable perception of competition for our attention would spur him on and it does seem that he has stepped up his efforts somewhat, but he still needs to do more.

That’s not to say we’re being pushy parents though. We’re doing everything that is recommended and being patient with him.

Good things come to those who wait, they say, and I know they will. I just hope that it’s soon.

People keep telling us that Xander will probably learn things at a faster rate thanks to the advantage of having an older sibling.

I’m sure that’ll be the case too, but hopefully Dylan’s language skills gather pace in the meantime.

Otherwise, we’re going to have human versions of Morph and Chas on our hands…


  1. The Last Slayer

    My toddler’s 28 months and also does the “clams up with a little smile” routine when you ask him what something is! They can be tremendously stubborn can’t they?!

  2. Lindsay M

    He’ll surprise you one day and come out with a sentence! According to my mum, I was so quiet they got my hearing tested and was a late talker… but then came out with proper words instead of babble. Although some would disagree, I’m not noticeably retarded now…! He is probably practising on the quiet. Great blog by the way, I’ve read and enjoyed them every so often, really pleased it’s been recognised 🙂

  3. Michelle Couny

    Both my nephews were the same. Very intelligent, visibly understood everything but just wouldn’t speak. Then it all came very quickly between 2 and 3 yrs old and the elder one has even gone up a class at school because he’s so bright!
    It’s good you’ve been looking out for all the warning signs, and that you’re confident in his ability. I can imagine it must be very frustrating though!

  4. Donna@MummyCentral

    My in-laws never stop telling the story of how my husband didn’t utter a word until he was 3 – then opened his mouth and started spouting full sentences.
    He just didn’t want to speak before then.
    Hopefully that will be the case with Dylan. Sorry can’t offer more of an insight though.
    Please link up this post to Parentonomy over on Mummy Central. We have a different topic every week – and a couple of weeks ago it was speech.
    Donna x

  5. Max_Daddy_DC

    Yeah, our 21 m/o (18 m/o adjusted) preemie really isn’t “talking” in English or Deutsch…

    “He should being saying a lot more words…”

    Like yours, Crash understands just fine and has assigned the “right” meaning to the appropriate words–starting with his Christian name at about two months-old. He responds to commands, direction, requests like “Where’s your ball” and, of course, “No”.

    We think he is just following his pattern of not doing something–bottle feeding, walking, “real” food– ’til HE decides to… In fact, he skipped the entire crawling thing and went straight to “frogging” and walking?

    Crash has hearing “loss”*, 1,000-4,000 Hz at 50-60 Db, and there are those that want to link the two things.

    *: How can one “lose” that which one never had?

    He’s had hearing aids since he was aged five month-old and is bombarded with “Sesame Street” podcasts and Little PIM language DVDs and spoken word etc…

    Kinda frustrating when professionals forget that these “milestones” they’re so busy referencing are premised upon statistical averages–and extrapolated to six billion h.s. sapiens on this planet…

  6. Max_Daddy_DC

    PS: Crash loves music–Brubeck, Bach, disco, go-go, ska, country–and dancing with or without his hearing aids.

    He’s also very fond of “Elmo” and recognizes the voice.

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