Signs of Speech Delay in 20-Month-Olds: What Parents Should Know

by Shopify API on May 28, 2024
Concerned about your 20-month-old's speech development? Learn the signs of speech delay, possible causes, and how to support your child's language development. #brainhealth #speechdelay #languagedevel

Are you concerned about your 20-month-old's speech development? Many parents worry when their toddlers don't meet typical speech milestones. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the signs of speech delay in 20-month-olds, the possible causes, and what parents can do to support their child's language development.

What is Speech Delay?

Speech delay refers to a situation when a child's speech and language development is slower than expected for their age. At 20 months, most children have a vocabulary of about 50 words and can combine words to form short phrases. However, some children may have difficulty reaching these milestones.

Signs of Speech Delay

Identifying the signs of speech delay in your 20-month-old can help you take appropriate action and seek professional help if needed. Here are some common signs to watch out for:

  • Limited vocabulary: Your child may have a smaller repertoire of words compared to other children their age.
  • Difficulty forming sentences: They may struggle to combine words to form simple phrases or sentences.
  • Lack of social communication: Difficulty engaging in back-and-forth conversations or responding to questions or comments.
  • Poor pronunciation: Trouble pronouncing certain sounds or substituting them with simpler sounds.
  • Difficulty understanding instructions: They may have trouble following simple instructions or understanding basic concepts.
  • Lack of expressive gestures: Limited use of gestures like pointing or waving.

Causes of Speech Delay

Speech delay in 20-month-olds can have various causes. While some children may simply develop language skills at their own pace, others may have underlying conditions that require intervention. Here are some possible causes:

  • Developmental factors: Some children may have a slower language development due to genetic or environmental factors.
  • Hearing problems: Hearing loss or frequent ear infections can impact speech development.
  • Neurological disorders: Conditions like autism spectrum disorder or cerebral palsy can affect speech and language development.
  • Lack of stimulation: Insufficient exposure to language-rich environments or limited interaction with caregivers can delay speech development.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you notice any of the signs mentioned earlier or have concerns about your child's speech development, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your child's language skills and provide appropriate guidance or refer you to a speech-language therapist if necessary.

Speech and Language Therapy

Speech and language therapy is a common approach used to help children with speech delays. A speech-language therapist can assess your child's communication skills, develop an individualized therapy plan, and provide strategies to enhance their speech and language development.

What Parents Can Do

As a parent, you play a crucial role in supporting your child's speech and language development. Here are some strategies you can implement:

  • Talk and read to your child: Engage in frequent conversations and read books together to expose your child to a variety of words and language patterns.
  • Encourage play and interaction: Provide opportunities for your child to interact with peers and engage in imaginative play, as these activities promote language development.
  • Use gestures and visuals: Incorporate gestures, visuals, and simple signs to support understanding and communication.
  • Praise efforts: Encourage and praise your child's attempts at communication, even if their speech is not yet clear.
  • Provide a language-rich environment: Surround your child with language by labeling objects, describing activities, and narrating daily routines.


While speech delay can be a source of concern for parents, early identification and intervention can make a significant difference in a child's language development. By recognizing the signs of speech delay in your 20-month-old and seeking appropriate support, you can help your child unlock their full communication potential. Remember, every child develops at their own pace, and with patience, support, and professional guidance, your child can thrive in their language skills.