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Why is my 14-month-old not talking but babbling? (Answer from an SLP)

A girl child smiling

As a speech therapist, I often encounter concerned parents who wonder why their 14-month-old toddler isn't talking yet but is constantly babbling. It's essential to understand that speech development varies from child to child, and there's a broad range of what's considered typical.

Basic Development of a 14-Month-Old Toddler

At 14 months, toddlers go through a significant phase of development. While every child is unique, there are some general milestones to keep in mind:

Hearing and Understanding

• Follows 1-part directions, like "Roll the ball" or

“Kiss the baby”.

• Respond to simple questions, like "Who's that?" or

"Where's your shoe?"

• Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes.

• Points to pictures in a book when you name them.


• Uses p, b, m, h, and w in words.

• Starts to name pictures in books.

• Asks questions, like "What's that?", "Who's that?", and

"Where's kitty?"

• Puts 2 words together, like "more apple," "no bed," and

"mommy" book."

Causes of Speech Delay in 14-Month-Old Toddlers

While some children reach these milestones effortlessly, others may experience delays in speech development. Several factors can contribute to speech delays in 14-month-olds:

1. Late Bloomers: Many children are simply late bloomers when it comes to speech. They may catch up in their own time.

2. Hearing Issues: Hearing problems can significantly impact speech development. If a child can't hear well, they may struggle to imitate sounds and words.

3. Premature Birth: Premature babies may have delayed speech due to their early arrival, as speech and language development often align with age.

4. Lack of Stimulation: An environment that lacks verbal interaction and stimulation can impede speech development.

5. Speech Disorders: In some cases, children may have underlying speech disorders, such as apraxia, articulation disorders, or phonological disorders, which require professional intervention.

6. Bilingual Upbringing: Children growing up in bilingual households might take a bit longer to differentiate between languages and start speaking.

The Importance of Gestures in Communication

During this phase of speech development, gestures play a pivotal role in communication. Here's why they are significant:

1. Bridge to Speech: Gestures provide a way for toddlers to express their needs and desires before they can articulate words.

2. Understanding Complex Ideas: Gestures help children comprehend complex ideas and instructions. For instance, a child may point to a glass when they want a drink.

3. Emotional Expression: Gestures enable toddlers to convey their emotions, whether it's a smile, a hug, or a wave goodbye.

4. Frustration Reduction: Effective gestures can reduce frustration in toddlers who might struggle to make themselves understood verbally.

Tips for Parents to Encourage Speech Development

Here are some tips to help your child along their speech development journey:

1. Engage in Conversations: Talk to your child regularly, even if they are just babbling. Respond to their sounds and encourage back-and-forth "conversations." This helps them understand the two-way communication.

2. Read Aloud: Reading to your child is one of the most effective ways to promote language development. Choose age-appropriate books with colorful pictures and simple text. Point to and name objects in the pictures. It helps them understand correct pronunciation of words.

3. Expand on Babbling: When your child babbles, respond as if they are saying something meaningful. For example, if they say "ba-ba," you can say, "Yes, that's your bottle, you want your bottle?" This reinforces their attempts at communication.

4. Use Gestures: Incorporate gestures into your communication. This helps your child understand the connection between words and actions.

5. Limit Screen Time: Excessive screen time can hinder speech development. Ensure your child has plenty of opportunities for face-to-face interactions and playtime with toys that encourage communication.

6. Incorporate sign language- teach your toddler sign language for basic daily requirements like, ‘more’, ‘thank you’, ‘mama’, ‘hungry’, ‘all done’, etc.

Sounderic provides online speech therapy sessions for children with various communication disorders. We would love to help you. Get in touch with us on WhatsApp at +919644466635 or schedule a consultation with us at

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