My 16 Month Old Not Talking - Speech Therapy Insights — Toddler Talk (2023)

12 - 24 Months

Written By Stephanie Keffer

My 16 Month Old Not Talking - Speech Therapy Insights — Toddler Talk (1)

(Video) Toddler Speech Intelligibility [Is it normal for my 2 year old to be talking gibberish?]

Everyone talks about speech and language milestones for 12 months, 18 months, and even 15 months. But what about the common question, “Why is my 16-month-old not talking?”

I know when you’re searching online you want to find concrete answers about 16-month-old speech and language milestones, and to know if you should be concerned if you’re thinking, “my 16-month-old is not talking.”

In this post, I will go in-depth about developmental milestones just for 16-month-olds, help you identify when it may be time to seek support, and share some speech therapy activities for 16-month-olds with you.

16-Month-Old Speech And Language Milestones:

Expressive Language (non-verbal communication and talking skills):

Speech therapists look for 16-month-old toddlers to express their wants and needs by:

  • Saying 15 words or more on their own

  • Showing their parents by pointing or taking them to what they want

  • Copying words they hear other people say some of the time

Receptive Language (understanding skills):

When thinking about a 16-month-olds understanding abilities, it’s important to look for them to:

  • Give their attention when someone calls their name (most of the time)

  • Understand the meaning of “No!” particularly in safety situations

  • Follow some directions at home that they’ve practiced many times

  • To learn the meaning of new words quickly

Speech Sounds (pronunciation):

At 16 months, toddlers are still working to grow their pronunciation skills. In general pronunciation skills improve as toddlers begin to say more words; that’s because they are getting more practice when their vocabulary is larger. For this reason, speech therapy will focus more on expanding a toddler’s vocabulary at this age, rather than on learning to pronounce sounds clearly. The focus may shift towards pronunciation once children are in preschool.

Nonetheless, your 16-month-old should be making many different sounds, even if they don’t sound perfect. Here’s a list of some sounds to listen for in 16-month-olds:

  • “M” as in Mama, me, and more

  • “P” as in Papa, pee, and poop

  • “B” as in baby, beep, and bye-bye

  • “N” as in Nana and no

    (Video) Speech Delay Alone Vs Speech Delay with Autism (from a Mother Who Has Experienced Both!)

  • “H” as in hi

  • And vowel sounds like: Ah, A, E, Oh, and Oo

Our Free Toddler Talk Assessment offers even more milestone information and will give you a detailed summary of how your toddler is doing in their milestones compared to other children their same age.

Create a free account and take your assessment here.

My 16 Month Old Not Talking - Speech Therapy Insights — Toddler Talk (2)

My 16-month-old is not talking.

Do they need speech therapy?

If your 16-month-old isn’t talking I do recommend talking to your child’s pediatrician about a speech and language evaluation.

There are a few key reasons why I recommend taking action now instead of waiting.

  1. It will take a few weeks to a few months to have your evaluation - It can take weeks to months to get started in speech therapy because you have to wait for insurance approval and also wait for an evaluation appointment time to become available.

    If it takes about 2 months to have the speech and language evaluation you scheduled when your little one was 16 months old, they will be 18 months old at the time of the appointment. You’ll be so relieved that you have the appointment scheduled if your concerns about your toddler’s talking continue.

    (Video) Molly Wright: How every child can thrive by five | TED

    Alternatively, if your toddler has a huge language burst and they are saying tons of words you can cancel your appointment (be sure to check the cancellation policies to cancel in advance and avoid fees). Even if you don’t end up going I always recommend the “be safe rather than sorry” approach to speech and language evaluations.

  2. Supporting toddlers when the gap is small is easier than waiting when the gap grows larger - I am a huge proponent of preventive care; better to support a toddler early on so they reach their milestones and don’t need speech therapy (or as much speech therapy as they would if you waited). In my opinion, it’s best (and easiest) to support toddlers from an early age because in general the longer you wait the more work it takes to catch up.

  3. Speech therapy is available for free or at a low cost through State’s Early Intervention Programs - It hurts me to think about families paying hundreds to thousands of dollars for speech therapy when every state offers speech therapy to toddlers through their Early Intervention Programs at little to no cost to families. Be sure to check out this amazing resource! To find a program in your area, follow this link to the CDC website.

Continued Reading: What to expect in a speech and language evaluation for toddlers

My 16 Month Old Not Talking - Speech Therapy Insights — Toddler Talk (3)

Now that you have an idea of what speech therapists are looking for from 16-month-old toddlers not talking and why I recommend talking to your pediatrician about a speech and language skills evaluation sooner rather than later, let’s talk about what you can do at home to support your little one.

Here are some 16-month-old speech and language activities for toddlers who haven’t started talking yet:

1. Focused Stimulation Speech Therapy Strategy - Focused stimulation is one of the best speech therapy strategies for helping toddlers understand and say new words. It requires that we (adults) say the real names of things many times over when talking with toddlers. It’s a personal favorite strategy because you can use focused stimulation in any activity!

Go to the lesson and see how to use focused stimulation with your toddler.

2. Teaching Toddlers to Copy Words - Toddlers learn to talk through imitation, or by copying sounds and words they hear us say as practice before they say them on their own. I’ve created a whole post all about helping your toddler learn to copy words they hear you say.

Go to the lesson and get started practicing with imitation

3. Saying Their First Words - If your toddler is already repeating you but they haven’t said their first word yet, then this is the perfect lesson for you. Get speech therapy tips and activities for encouraging your 16-month-old to say their first word.

Go to the lesson to see activities for encouraging first words

To get a customized list of speech and language development activities for your 16-month-old, complete our Free Toddler Talk Assessment to get your custom at-home activity plan!

Get Started Here!

(Video) Parents are the best speech therapists | ..(*Timely diagnosis of cause of speech delay is a must.)

Here are some other common questions asked by parents of 16 month olds:

  • If your 16-month-old isn’t talking it’s the perfect time to begin supporting their emerging speech and language skills with speech therapy strategies, like focused stimulation, so they can strengthen their foundational skills upon which their vocabulary will grow.

  • At 16 months listen for your toddler to be saying at least 15 different words. Some common words said by 16-month-olds include: Mama, Dada, Papa, Hi, Bye, Go, No, Baba (bottle), Baby, Night-night, More, and Me.

  • Yes, by 16-months-old speech therapists listen for toddlers to say at least 15 different words. However, your toddler’s words don’t need to sound perfect. See what you can count as a word and more about first words here - learn about first words.

  • If your child is not talking, meaning they haven’t said their first word, by 14-months-old it’s a good idea to consult their pediatrician. Together you can monitor their speech and language development in order to ensure they stay on track with their milestones.

Written By: Stephanie Keffer, MS CCC-SLP

© 2020-2023. Stephanie Keffer, MS CCC-SLP. All Rights Reserved.

The content offered on is for informational purposes only.Toddler Talk is not engaged in rendering professional advice, whether medical or otherwise, to individual users or their children or families.No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor, speech language pathologist, or other health professional.By accessing the content on,you acknowledge and agree that you are accepting the responsibility for your child’s health and well-being. In return for providing you with information related to home speech and language practice, you waive any claims that you or your child may have as a result of utilizing the content on

Stephanie Keffer

(Video) 3 Ways To Teach Children to Respond to Their Own Names


What to do if my 16 month old isn't talking? ›

The age at which kids begin talking typically ranges from 6 to 18 months. In general, there is no need to worry if your toddler isn't talking and seems "behind"—even if they are at the older end of that range. Of course, if your child is 19 months and still not talking, you may be concerned, but this too can be normal.

How do I know if my 16 month old needs speech therapy? ›

Here are some of the signs that might indicate that your toddler needs speech therapy.
  1. Your Child Has a Stutter.
  2. Your Toddler Only Says a Small Number of Words.
  3. Your Child Has Issues Articulating Certain Sounds.
  4. Your Child Doesn't Understand Simple Statements.
  5. Your Child is Quiet in Social Situations.
May 24, 2021

Does speech therapy help toddlers talk? ›

Speech therapy can help toddlers speak more clearly and improve their language skills. Pediatric speech therapists will work with your child to identify sounds, learn new words, and improve pronunciation.

Can a toddler with speech delay catch up? ›

Between 70–80% of Late Talkers seem to catch up to their peers by the time they enter school. Sometimes these children are called “late bloomers” because they eventually seem to catch up to other children their age.

At what age do late talkers talk? ›

Speech/Language Milestones

Boys tend to develop language skills a little later than girls, but in general, kids may be labeled "late-talking children" if they speak less than 10 words by the age of 18 to 20 months, or fewer than 50 words by 21 to 30 months of age.

What age is too late for speech therapy? ›

While early intervention offers the best outcome when it comes to helping someone with a speech or language disorder, speech therapy can be highly effective and beneficial to adults as well. No age is too old for speech therapy, and it is never too late to start working towards meeting your communication goals.

Should a 16 month old baby be able to articulate? ›

Your 16-month-old may be able to say as many as seven words — or even more — clearly. But she will still rely mostly on nonverbal communication, pointing and gesturing to tell you what she wants or what she wants you to see. Your toddler understands much more than she can speak.

Why is my 16 month old non verbal? ›

The two most common reasons why are: A child is developing talking or pronunciation skills at a slower pace than their peers. A child is having trouble learning the coordination for making sounds for speech.

What is the success rate of speech therapy for toddlers? ›

According to Heathline, speech therapy for young children has been shown to be most successful when started early and practiced at home with the involvement of a parent or caregiver. In one study, 70 percent of preschool kids with language issues who went through speech therapy showed improvement in language skills.

How do speech therapist teach toddlers to talk? ›

Singing and rhyming

It is a vital part of your speech therapy activities. They encourage speech because of the presence of rhythm and rhyming words. It brings your child closer to you; you are both having fun and learning too!

What activities help a toddler talk? ›

Recite nursery rhymes and sing songs. Play rhymes, stories and songs in the car. Copy your child's attempts at words to encourage two-way conversation. Also build on your child's words – for example, when your toddler says 'train', you can say, 'Yes, it's a big red train'.

Can poor parenting cause speech delay? ›

Delays can also be caused by neglect, abuse, or an event or circumstance that was really disruptive to development. These are atypical scenarios though that we rarely encounter. For the average parent doing their best, you can rest assured that your child's speech or language delay is definitely not your fault.

What vitamins help with speech delay in toddlers? ›

Vitamin B12 (Specifically MethylB12)

Methylation is important for cognition, mood and sleep regulation, and speech development. A methylated form of vitamin B12 can help improve all of these issues.

Can parenting cause speech delay? ›

Nearly every parent wonders, “Did I cause my child's speech delay?” But, being a “late talker,” having a “speech delay,” or having a “language delay” is often just the way a child is and is not the result of something that a parent did wrong.

What are the red flags for autism at 15 months? ›

According to the AAP, very early signs of autism include extremes of temperament; poor eye contact; poor response to others' voices (particularly the child's own name); poor interactive play; more interest in looking at objects than people; delayed pointing when sharing or asking for something; decreased interactive ...

What sounds do autistic toddlers make? ›

Autistic children have communication difficulties, narrow interests and repetitive behaviour.
For example, children might:
  • make repetitive noises like grunts, throat-clearing or squealing.
  • do repetitive movements like body-rocking or hand-flapping.
  • do things like flicking a light switch repeatedly.
Jul 23, 2021

What are development red flags for 18 month old? ›

At 18 months, according to the CDC, developmental red flags may be when a child is not copying others, not gaining new words, and losing any skills they may have once had. For a 2-year-old, look out for an inability to follow simple instructions, walk steadily, or use common items like a spoon.

Does speech therapy help late talkers? ›

Early Intervention Speech Therapy Helps Late Talkers Catch Up. Speech therapy has been proven to help children with speech-language delays “catch up” to their peers.

Can a toddler have speech delay and not be autistic? ›

Not necessarily. While speech delays, language delays, and learning differences are often a hallmark of ASD, a speech delay by itself does not mean a child has autism. In fact, there are key differences between communication delays caused by autism and other types of speech-language disorders.

Can a late-talker be smart? ›

To be sure, most late talking children do not have high intelligence. However, there are certainly many cases on record indicating that there may be trade-offs between early, precocious development of reasoning and analytical abilities and the development of verbal skills.

At what age did speech therapy start? ›

If you are finding it hard to understand most of what they are saying, speech therapy for children may be necessary. 48 months and above – Between the ages of two and four, it becomes most obvious if your child needs assistance.

How many words should a 16 month say? ›

By 16 to 18 months, most kids have a vocabulary of 10 to 15 words. And it doesn't matter if only you can understand the words -- we still count them, and so should you!

How do I know if my 18 month old needs speech therapy? ›

by 18 months: has trouble imitating sounds. has trouble understanding simple verbal requests. by 2 years: can only imitate speech or actions and doesn't produce words or phrases spontaneously. by 2 years: says only some sounds or words repeatedly and can't use oral language to communicate more than their immediate ...

What developmental skills should a 16-month-old have? ›

15-18 months: toddler development
  • At 15-18 months, you can expect curiosity, strong attachments, new words, independent walking, small hand movements and more.
  • Talking and listening, reading, moving, playing outside, working on everyday skills and playing with others are good for toddler development.
Dec 15, 2022

What behaviors should a 16-month-old have? ›

16-month-old milestones

Most 16-month-olds are walking well, which is the lead-up to next steps: climbing, running, walking backward and dancing to music. Speech. About half of toddlers at this age are saying at least three words, and some especially chatty tots are uttering 15 words or more.

Can a 16-month-old show signs of ADHD? ›

Doctors and healthcare professionals do not diagnose ADHD in toddlers. They may diagnose the condition in school aged children. Many behaviors associated with hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention in school aged children may be typical behavior in toddlers.

What are signs of autism in toddlers speech? ›

How does ASD affect communication?
  • Repetitive or rigid language. Often, children with ASD who can speak will say things that have no meaning or that do not relate to the conversations they are having with others. ...
  • Narrow interests and exceptional abilities. ...
  • Uneven language development. ...
  • Poor nonverbal conversation skills.
Apr 13, 2020

At what age is a child considered nonverbal? ›

Romski et al (2010) defined nonverbal toddlers as those whose Mullen expressive language scores were below 12 months and had fewer than 10 intelligible spoken words.

When should I worry about my nonverbal toddler? ›

If your child is age 15 months or older and has not said their first word, or seems to be struggling to communicate, this could be a sign of a language delay. A speech or language delay can cause concern for many parents and lead to feelings of frustration and stress.

How long does it take to see results from speech therapy? ›

It depends on the problem a kid is working on. Kids might see a speech therapist once a week or a few times a week. Treatment can take a few weeks, a few months, or a few years. If you have speech problem, the best advice is to practice, practice, practice.

What happens at the first speech therapy for toddlers? ›

During the child's first visit the therapist will ask for an overview of your child's strengthens and weaknesses. Be prepared to discuss your concerns regarding your child's speech, language, social, and/or feeding difficulties.

Does speech therapy really help? ›

It helps people develop skills like comprehension, clarity, voice, fluency and sound production. Speech therapy can treat childhood speech disorders or adult speech impairments caused by stroke, brain injury or other conditions.

What activities help with speech? ›

These fun preschool games are perfect language activities for younger kids.
  • Hopscotch Word Fun. Draw a hopscotch on the sidewalk or driveway and write target words in each box. ...
  • I Spy. ...
  • The Alphabet Game. ...
  • Bury Objects or Picture Cards. ...
  • Word Search. ...
  • Hide-and-Seek with Words. ...
  • Articulation Station App.

What activities help with speech delay? ›

Exercises for speech delays in toddlers
  • Read to them. One way to help your toddler with a speech delay is to read to them every day, as often as you can. ...
  • Speak with them. ...
  • Encourage singing. ...
  • Model self-talk. ...
  • Use drinking straws.
Feb 24, 2022

How much speech therapy does a toddler need? ›

The younger children, and even older children with memory challenges or articulation disorders, benefit from more frequent sessions. Research shows that children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech may need therapy four to five times weekly. We often analogize going to speech therapy to working out.

How do I encourage my nonverbal toddler to talk? ›

Focus on nonverbal communication.

Use both your body and your voice when communicating – for example, by extending your hand to point when you say “look” and nodding your head when you say “yes.” Use gestures that are easy for your child to imitate. Examples include clapping, opening hands, reaching out arms, etc.

Do boys talk later than girls? ›

It is true that boys produce their first words and sentences later than girls. However, these differences are only in terms of a matter of a few months. There is a normal range within which children acquire certain language milestones.

How can I help my toddler with speech therapy at home? ›

Speech therapy tips for parents to use at home
  1. Practice. ...
  2. Focus on what the child can do instead of overemphasizing what he or she can't do. ...
  3. Keep background noise and distractions to a minimum during learning sessions and at other times too. ...
  4. Listen! ...
  5. Use straws. ...
  6. Read. ...
  7. You can make a difference.

Does Cocomelon cause speech delay? ›

The conversation around how beneficial the show actually is began when one mum voiced her concern on TikTok. Mum Sierra, whose two-year-old suffered from speech delay, claimed she didn't realise that the show was holding back her child's development until she switched over to another popular kids' program.

What are the red flags for speech delay? ›

Red flags for a speech or language delay include: No babbling by 9 months. No first words by 15 months. No consistent words by 18 months.

Can too much TV cause speech delay? ›

Studies report a link between TV and language development in young children. The more time kids spend watching television, the more slowly they learn to talk.

What deficiency causes speech problems? ›

It is well documented that B 12 deficiency can cause developmental delay, hypotonia, tremor, seizures, failure to thrive, reduced IQ, and mental retardation. Children with B 12 deficiency exhibit speech, language, and social delays, behavioral issues, and problems with fine and gross motor movement.

Does honey help in speech? ›

To strengthen the tongue and lips, put honey or a sweet, sticky food on the upper and lower lips.

What are alternatives to speech therapy for toddlers? ›

Some methods include playing with toys, reading books or using other objects to stimulate growth. They may also use articulation exercises to demonstrate and practice sounds children might struggle - like the “r” sound.

What is the root cause of speech delay? ›

Some children are simply late bloomers and may hold off talking for a bit. For others though, a delay in reaching language milestones signifies developmental speech problems. The major underlying causes of developmental speech problems stem from hearing issues, autism, and neuromuscular disorders.

Does speech delay mean low IQ? ›

Children with speech delay is one of the concerns for many parents. Many opinions believe that children with delayed speech affect intelligence. However, so far, there has been no research to prove that children with speech delay are less intelligent.

What causes speech delay in 16 month old? ›

Developmental Delay of Expressive or Receptive Language

Trouble with language processing is usually caused by one of four problems: delayed expressive or receptive language, autism spectrum disorder, hearing loss, and global developmental delay.

Will my 16 month old ever talk? ›

Speech at 16 months old: Getting Chatty

Your 16-month-old toddler may be able to say several words that you can understand and probably still 'babbles' a lot too. Don't worry if your 16-month-old is not 'talking' as much as other children around the same age – all children are different.

At what age should you worry about a child not talking? ›

Also call the doctor if your child's speech is harder to understand than expected for their age: Parents and regular caregivers should understand about 50% of a child's speech at 2 years and 75% of it at 3 years. By 4 years old, a child should be mostly understood, even by people who don't know the child.

Is my toddler speech delayed or autistic? ›

Children with speech delays will often have difficulty producing specific speech sounds. Autistic children may also have trouble making speech sounds, but they may also use persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia). Children with speech delays may also have difficulty with motor skills.

What noises do autistic toddlers make? ›

What noises do autistic toddlers make?

What are the signs of a non verbal autistic child? ›

What are the signs of a non verbal autistic child?

Is babbling considered talking? ›

As your baby babbles more expertly, around 6 months old, you may hear word-like sounds like "ma-ma," "ba-ba," and "da-da." This doesn't count as real talking, though, because your baby doesn't yet understand the meaning of these words. By around 12 months old, your baby will say a few words and know what they mean.

How well should a 16 month old talk? ›

Vocabulary – Your child should use single words by 15 to 16 months of age at the latest. They should have a 10-word vocabulary by 18 months of age. Following directions – They should be able to follow simple directions by the time they are 21 months old. An example would be “Come here.”

What are red flags for 18 month old milestones? ›

At 18 months, according to the CDC, developmental red flags may be when a child is not copying others, not gaining new words, and losing any skills they may have once had. For a 2-year-old, look out for an inability to follow simple instructions, walk steadily, or use common items like a spoon.

Why do some toddlers choose not to talk? ›

Causes of a speech delay

There are several things that can cause speech delays, such as hearing loss, physical problems in the roof of the mouth, learning disabilities, or certain diagnosable conditions like autism spectrum disorder or cerebral palsy.

What is the most common reason for speech delay? ›

MENTAL RETARDATION. Mental retardation is the most common cause of speech delay, accounting for more than 50 percent of cases.


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