Parents' advice sought: late walker, late talker

I have a 19-month-old son, and he is just now starting to walk, and he rarely talks. He knows about 20 words that I have heard him use, but he rarely uses them. I am home with him all the time, so he doesn’t seem to feel the need to speak, because I know what he wants before he tells me. And he doesn’t seem to feel the need to walk, because we live in a small apartment, and there’s not much distance to cover. Crawling seems to work for him, as it is.

Also, he was born with hypospadias. (Basically, his penis was folded under and the foreskin had grown over the whole thing.) He had surgery to correct this a year ago, and the doctors told me it would delay his walking and potty-training for a little while. Understandable.

I don’t want to pressure him, but I’m catching heat from the grandma. So, Doper parents, any ideas on how I can encourage him to talk and walk more? Or do I tell the grandma to lay off and let my son develop at his own speed? I’m trying to do what’s best for him, but I’m a little puzzled as to exactly what that would be.

Thanks in advance for any advice and/or help. :slight_smile:

I would ask the doctor if he feels you should be concerned. Once YOU are comfortable with what’s going on, maybe you can tell Grandma to back off a bit. I was always going nuts comparing my son to the other kids’ development. It was bad for all parties concerned.

My son is a late talker as well. Here’s a thread where we talked quite a bit about that. Even now, at 21 months, he still has a vocabulary of less than five words so your boy’s 20 looks pretty good! One suggestion my pediatrician gave me was to deliberately “misunderstand” your child’s needs. He grunts or points and you know he wants a banana, but you offer him a can of soup, an empty bowl, etc. so that he’s forced to use his words. I’ve tried it, and it can be very frustrating for him, and distressing for me because I feel like I’m teasing him, but I have had limited success with it. He says “nana” (banana) now, and we’re working on “cracker” next.

I don’t know what to tell you about the walking, as mine did that relatively early. But if your doctor specifically told you that his surgery might delay it, then I can’t see that it’s worth your while to worry about it too much. Do you have any pushy-type toys for him to walk behind? Mine has a little police car with a lawn-mower type handle in the back that really got him motoring around when he first got it. Good luck, and tell the grandparents to sod off (politely, of course), added pressure and stress won’t do anyone any good.

Not a parent here, but children do develop at different rates, so try to tune Grandma out.

My husband did not talk at all when he was your son’s age. He was one of those children that burst forth with complete sentences at the age of three. So far one master’s degree- the late speech didn’t hold him back.

Oooh, belladonna’s pushy toys are a good idea. You also should be doing the thing where you support his weight while he walks, just to get his leg muscles moving.

Questions gypsygirl Questions!!!

Children age differently, if you are home with him a lot talk to him a lot. Coax the little guy to talk and walk. With ours my wife had the opportunity to stay home, so blues clues, the berenstein bear, and bear and the big blue house books came in very helpful. But sometimes you need to spend a certain amount of time with the little guy each day. But the more you talk and annunciate your words, the quicker he’ll start to get it. But just remember, kids are all very diiferent, and yours is certainly not abnormal. Now if he is five and still scoot’in around on his little rear, then I’d be a little worried. But not at 19 months…

Thanks all; I feel a bit better now. My baby isn’t a freak. :wink:

belladonna, I remember reading that thread the first time around, and it gave me great encouragement. I’ll try making him tell me what he wants, pretending that I don’t understand. Makes sense to me. We have some push-type toys, and he is more interested in flipping them over and playing with the undersides. (Possible future auto mechanic? Or engineer? :))

And ** Phlosphr **, I’m making it a point to speak clearly and enunciate (hard for me, as a stutterer and an extremely fast-talker), and I have never used “baby-talk” with him. And I spend 24 hours a day with him… that’s probably why I know what he wants as soon as he looks at it.

My kid CAN walk and talk, but he doesn’t seem very inclined to do so. His doctors seem to think there’s not really a problem “yet,” but I hear those quote marks around that. Maybe first-time mom paranoia…?

I will gently try to tell Grandma (my mom, BTW) to chill. (But she potty-trained her kids at 10 months, so why can’t I…? blahblahblah.)

Again, thanks, and any more ideas will be appreciated. Good stuff, so far. I’ll give it a try.

You could go to the park a lot. Seeing all the other kids running around doing fun stuff and having lots of room to move in might motivate him to get moving too.

I agree with the ‘misunderstanding’ stuff too. Don’t give him things just because you already know he wants it–make him ask.

But don’t stress about it too much. Kids are all different, and unless/until it becomes evident that he needs speech therapy or something, let him go at his own pace.

Cranky Jr didn’t walk until 17 months. Now the kid won’t stand still.

I posted to Belladonna’s thread and noted that Little Gaffer #2 seemed to be a bit behind as well. He is now 20 months old and has just recently (last month or so) really started to pick up some more vocabulary. Last week he actually put two words together for the first time (he shrugged his shoulders and said “Don’t know” - sorry, but how cute is that!). Anyways, for the longest time all he would do is point and say “This.” Effective but not really conducive to conversation.

In any case, I think the point is was pointed out by a number of posters in that other thread and is being reiterated here. Kids are different and do things at different times.

Wow, just like regular people! How about that.

If it were my kid, I wouldn’t be totally relaxed TBH. While kids do things at different rates, he’s approaching an end of the bell curve which is late and it does need to be watched.

How often is he put in a situation where he must communicate with others? Does he go to a playgroup? I’d be encouraging talking as much as possible by not accepting pointing and pretending not to understand when he doesn’t use language. I know it’s hard and you feel like the biggest bitch on earth but language is a useful tool.

How is his receptive language? Can he follow an instruction? My speech therapist said the single most useful tool she had for working with kids was games and turn taking. he’s possibly a bit young for that but keep it in mind.

I think you’re got the explanation already for his late walking but the walker toy idea is a great one.

Good luck!

Hence one of my concerns… He is rarely in contact with other kids, mostly because we’re new to the city and we don’t know any other people with children. I’ve been thinking about a play group, but I don’t really know how to go about finding one. I do think, however, that interaction with other kids might be a good thing about now.

And he is good about understanding me, and following instructions (for his age, at least). He understands and complies with my telling him to eat, comb his hair, throw me the ball, leave that alone, etc.

I think you may have a good point about him needing more interaction with other kids, and I’ll look into that.

Again, thanks for all help! :slight_smile:

Our daughter walked late and talked a bit late. Part of that was her learning style – she wouldn’t do anything unless she did it right. (For instance, she never had the problem of climbing up a step and not being able to get down – she waited until she could get down before trying to climb up.)

Her development has been just fine. She did require some speech therapy, and had to spend a year in pre-first. We practically insisted on it, since we had planned on giving her an extra year before entering kindergarten, but had to put her in early to get speech therapy.

It was funny going to the pre-first parent’s orientation meeting – usually it’s set up to reassure parents that their child wasn’t being held back because they couldn’t handle the work, but because they weren’t ready for it. We were probably the first parents who were enthusiastic that they had the program (alas, it’s been dropped, which is a crime).

If the doctor’s not worried, no one else should be. Be patient.

gypsygirl, does your little one by any chance show any hand preference yet? I only ask because my 11-year-old, who is left handed, didn’t walk effectively til 16 months, and didn’t talk at all until after she was 3! She did great animal sounds, about 20 of them, but said not one word. Once she started talking, it was non-stop. I was told by her ped that often left-handers are later hitting developmental milestones. However, a higher percentage of left-handers are geniuses. Go figure. As of now, she’s extremely intelligent and articulate (and I’m not just sasying that because I’m her mom), and is excited about the prospect of being a genius!

dont worry about the walking. i dont know of anyone without a handicap who cant walk. dont worry about the talking. but keep in mind that he has his whole life to develop a vocabulary. his penis, now theres room for concern. will it be normal at age 5? age 10? 30? abnormal genetelia is alot scarier than late-developing vocab skills.

gypsygirl, are you really in Chicago? In such a big city you should have no problem finding playgroups and other free places to mix with kids.

See if you can find

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Chicago Parent Magazine

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A Parent’s Guide to Chicago

If Chicago Parent is anything like carlotta’s city Parent there will be a big section at the back of parenting support groups, several of which probably organize playgroups. I have been in a playgroup since older son was 6 mos. and he turns 4 soon-we’re in our second generation as everyone has had a 2nd child. It has been a godsend for me and my kids.

As for whether you should worry, I say trust your gut. If you feel uneasy every time you think about his development ask your pediatrician for a referral to a developmental specialist for a thorough evaluation-can’t hurt.

On the other hand, if you’re really not worried, it’s just grandma pressuring you, as others have said, lots of kids walk and talk on their own schedule.

Ha! Ceejaytee’s beautiful son was the same way–except that he would say “that.” The two of them could have had a great conversation. “This” “That.” “This.” “That.”

gypsygirl–please do tell your mom to lay off. My mom is 99% wonderful, but she bugs me about the fact that we are family bedding. (We are not planning to do it permanently. It’s just the most logistically logical thing right now). I’m going to tell her that the doctor says it’s just fine, but if she brings it up again after that, I’m going to have to tell her to bugger off.

Anyway, as long as your son is within the developmentally “normal” range, I wouldn’t worry. But I do like the idea of playgroups and toys to encourage him.

You might find a Mother’s Day Out program. One afternoon a week and it’ll give you a little time off, too. Go to a movie, go shopping. Heck - take a long bath. Contact with the other kids would be good for him.


RealityChuck, speaking as a parent of two kids who have gone on to be Not OK Without Intervention, I don’t trust doctors quite as much as you do. I totally agree that if the only source of disquiet is Grandma, then ignore it and listen to the doctor but if a parent has any inkling of disquiet then it’s better to go to the doctor and discuss referrals without waiting for the doctor to offer. I’ve had doctors who haven’t read my sons’s notes who have totally not realised they were on the autistic spectrum. It can be very subtle. Gypsygirls, I’m not for one microsecond implying that your son might be autistic – it’s just that I don’t trust doctors to read my mind. If you’re uneasy, get a referral.

I’ve got my MIL arriving next month for 3 weeks. I inadvertantly ‘forgot’ to tell her that P the Younger was diagnosed as autistic because I just didn’t wanna deal. I don’t think I am going to get away with it this time though ;). My chickens are coming home to roost in a big way.

Not only can these programs be great in themselves, they’re also a good place to meet other parents with children the same age as yours, and that’s the beginning of social interaction for your child. It’s also kind of nice to get some of that for yourself, especially if you’re home with the baby all day.

My younger daughter didn’t talk until she was 22 months old. Her first “word” was, “Lissy throwed mine bear into mine crib,” which I considered quite advanced, given that it was not only a complete sentence, it was also tattling (her sister had thrown her favorite stuffed animal into the crib, where she couldn’t get it). Based on my experience alone, I’d suggest you not worry too much.

I do think Primaflora has a very good point, though, that if you think there might be something wrong, you should pay attention to your instincts. If you don’t feel you have enough experience with toddlers to spot a developmental problem, well, the aforementioned program might help with that, too, since it would give you the chance to see some other children in action and to get feedback about your son from experienced parents who can see him in action.