Some late talkers go on to develop speech and language skills later in their development and are ‘late bloomers’ while others continue to experience difficulties acquiring speech and language skills.

Information about when to be concerned can be found on the Red Flags poster.

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Late talkers who also have difficulty comprehending language and following instructions are more likely to have ongoing difficulties learning language. Delays in early language development may also be an indicator of a developmental disorder. Both ‘late talkers’ and ‘late-bloomers’ may need intervention support at different stages of their development. Delayed speech and language skills can relate to problems with behaviour, social interaction and later learning.

Individual assessments can be provided at the clinic, or families can access the Talk and Play language groups which are facilitated by a speech pathologist. If you are interested in these groups please contact us at 1800 SPEECH or

At 12 months

  • Says “mama” and “dada”
  • Engages in repetitive babbling
  • Can follow a simple command without a gesture
  • Understands “No”
  • Imitates and initiates gesture games
Looks to the source of sounds heard around them

At 18 months

  • Says some single words
  • Uses “mama” and “dada” to label the right parent
  • Are pointing to objects they want
  • Are beginning to recognize some body parts

At 2 years

  • Can use words to tell you what they want
  • Can say 50 or more different single words
  • Are beginning to put two words together e.g. “Mummy drink”, “shoes on”, “more ball”
  • Can follow two-step directions without gestures

At 3 years

  • Can be understood by unfamiliar people most of the time
  • Are beginning to use simple pronouns e.g. “me”, “you”
  • Can put 2-3 sentences together to have a conversation
  • Can understand and use location words e.g. “in”, “on”, “under”
  • Can identify and label objects and their uses e.g. “Show me the….”, “Which one is for cutting?”, “What is this called?”, “What is this for?”

Examples of early speech and language skills acquired before age 3 are listed below.

Critical Speech and Language Milestones (Early Language Milestone Scale – 2nd Edition, James Coplan 1993)

Talk to a Speech Pathologist