Q: I am concerned that my toddler isn't talking enough. What should I expect when the pediatrician checks her?
A: First, your doctor will review your child's medical history and ask whether she achieved her mental, physical, and social milestones on time. Doing this will help rule out any developmental problems. Because a common cause of speech delays is lingering fluid from a middle-ear infection, your doctor should also check your child's ears. Fluid buildup prevents children from hearing clearly, so they can't mimic the speech around them. If this is the case, your doctor will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics or recommend ear tubes. He'll also check your child's motor skills, as some children have trouble coordinating the muscles in the mouth and throat, which can lead to speech problems. Depending on his findings, the pediatrician may advise speech therapy or a visit to an audiologist, who specializes in hearing problems. But don't worry -- even if your child does need therapy, she'll probably catch up fairly quickly, as very young children tend to respond well to treatment. Some kids just get off to a slower start than others. --Natalie Walker Whitlock
Copyright 2004. Reprinted with permission from the June 2000 issue of Parents magazine. Updated 2009