Is it normal for a child to stutter?

Q: We've noticed that our otherwise very verbal 2-year-old is beginning to stutter. Should we worry?

A: Stuttering at this age is totally normal. That's because between 2 and 3, a child's vocabulary and language skills are exploding, and at a faster rate than his little lips can keep up with (called speech disfluency), so he stutters as a result. Almost all cases of toddler stuttering subside in about 6 months as the muscles kids use for speech become more coordinated and their vocabulary expands. If your toddler continues to stutter or the condition gets worse, he starts to repeat syllables four or more times (like th-th-th-th-thank you) or begins to show physical and emotional signs of stuttering, like blinking his eyes, looking away or walking off when it happens, and becoming frustrated or embarrassed, then there may be a problem. It's also important to observe when the stuttering happens. A normal disfluency shows up most often when a child is tired, anxious, or excited, but true stuttering is apparent most of the time. Stuttering is most treatable when caught early, so if you suspect that your child has more than an age-appropriate speech disfluency, have him assessed by a speech therapist sooner rather than later.

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