5 Signs Your Child Needs Speech Evaluation

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This is a touchy subject, I know. I have several friends and even family members who dragged their feet or did not know their child needed help with their speech development. I have possibly lost friends for bringing up the idea of having speech evaluated or asking for speech therapy. While it makes me sad that my concern alienated me, I don’t regret it.

I have been right to be concerned in every single case. It appears that many people are not aware of what “normal” speech development in babies and children looks like. Furthermore, many people are completely oblivious to “red flags” that indicate speech issues.

I am by no means an expert on the subject, my own children (thus far) have developed speech normally. However, it is an area that I have researched extensively because I know how important early detection and intervention with speech development issues is for an optimal outcome.

Below is a simple list I have compiled of some key milestones and red flags. If you have concerns your child isn’t hitting near these milestones or that he or she is exhibiting any of the red flags, discuss it with your trusted healthcare provider.

Go with your instincts. Children do all develop differently, including in the area of speech development; however, a speech evaluation is completely non-invasive so there’s no harm in erring on the side of caution if you have concerns.


5 Signs Your Child Should Have a Speech Evaluation:

  1. Your baby does not coo, babble or string together vocalizations (i.e. mamamama, dadadada) outside of crying by 9 months of age.
  2. Your child does not have consistent words by 18 months of age. Generally 20+ words should be in their vocabulary.
  3. Your child does not make simple sentences by 2 years of age. Generally 50+ words should be in their vocabulary.
  4. Immediate family and caregivers struggle to understand your child’s speech at 2 years of age. Between ages of 2-3 years a child’s vocabulary should grow well beyond what parents can easily count. 
  5. People outside of immediate family and caregivers struggle to understand your child’s speech at 3 years of age.

Additional Warning Signs:

  • Disinterest in communicating.
  • Regression or stagnation in speaking abilities.
  • Lack of response to being spoken to or noises in their surroundings.
  • Inability to speak clearly by age 3.

This list is by no means fully comprehensive. If you have concerns your child isn’t hitting speech milestones or is displaying any of these warning signs, take the time to have the cause investigated.

If your concerns are valid and an issue with your child’s speech development is found, it can be properly addressed. If it turns out you’ve been worrying for nothing, the weight of the worry will be lifted off your shoulders.

You can’t go wrong getting your concerns checked out. The only mistake you can make is putting off an evaluation if your child needs help. Speech therapy is most effective when started before age 3 and most (if not all) states have programs to give all children access to speech therapy before age 3.

Do you have a child whose speech seems to be developing differently?  Was this post helpful for you?

Have you had a child who needed speech therapy?  What prompted you to seek an evaluation and/or speech therapy? I would love to hear about your experiences!

Until next time,






  1. Lauren Bellows

    Thank you for sharing this! I have a son who had speech struggles and I now speak up more often than maybe I should. But early detection is so important!

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      I’m glad you appreciated it!

  2. Kristyn Schultz

    Thank you for this! My niece is now 7 and we still have a hard time understanding her. So important to have early intervention in this area!

  3. Sara

    If Parents as Teachers is an option where you live, they are great about early detection as well.

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      Thanks for the helpful input!

  4. Danielle

    What a great list full of information. My daughter has been in speech since 18 months, and has made so much progress. 🙂 Starting early is so important so that they don’t struggle later.

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      It is such an important thing to get checked ASAP if there’s any question of an issue. Glad your daughter is doing well!

  5. Kim S

    These are great facts of what to look for. My oldest daughter definitely had a word boom at 18 months old, which I was so thankful for. My youngest is only 14 months old, so I’ll look at for the cues!

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      Glad it was helpful to you!

  6. Lauren | also known as mama

    Yes yes yes! Thank you for writing this post. We struggled with my son’s speech delay for too long. Luckily, once we got him help and started seeing a SLP regularly, he had what they call a “language explosion.”

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      I’m so glad you got him help and it was such a success!

  7. Justine @ Little Dove

    I agree, this is often a touchy subject for parents, no one wants to think that their child might be “delayed” or need extra help. And it can be tricky because like you said, so many kids do develop at different rates. There are basic timelines for speech development and when the “language explosion” typically happens, but it can also greatly vary, which is where the trouble lies. Thanks for your insight on this!

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      I’m glad it was helpful for you!

  8. Rachel

    We are actually getting a speech evaluation next week for my son. Hoping to get him some help.

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      I hope it goes well and provides some answers and actionable steps you can take to help him! <3


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