Does my child need to see a Speech Pathologist?

As parents, we all wonder at some point in our child’s life if they are developing how they should be. Are they feeding well? Are they gaining enough weight? When should they be sitting? When should my child start talking, and how much should they be saying?

Speech Pathology Australia has created excellent resources about communication milestones which can be found here (

Communication is not just what we say (expressive) but also body language and what we understand (receptive). Receptive communication is understanding not only what is said to us, but what is written, communicated using Augmentative and Alternative Communication Systems (AAC), understanding what common objects are used for and understanding someone else’s body language.  Expressive communication is being able to make your message understood, whether it be verbally or using aided systems such as key word sign, pictures or voice output systems.

By around 12 months of age, your child should understand about 10 words, respond to their name, recognise greetings and gestures (hi, bye bye) and recognise a few familiar people and objects (for example, mummy, blankie, favourite toy). They should be making eye contact, starting to make sounds, use gestures to get their needs met and say a few words. They should be copying sounds and noises but continuing to babble.

Now let’s jump to 2 years of age. By now your child should be able to follow simple two part instructions (for example, give me the ball and the car), respond to simple wh- questions such as ‘what’ and ‘where’, point to several body parts and pictures in a book when named, uynderstand when an object is ‘in’ or ‘on’ something, say  more than 50 single words and start putting two words together (for example, ‘bye teddy’ or ‘no ball’). They should be able to sue their tone of voice to ask a question (for example, ‘teddy go?’) and say ‘no’ when they do not want something. They should be able to say most vowel sounds and a variety of consonant sounds as well as starting to use the words ‘my’ and ‘mine’.

But Speech Pathologists also can help with transition to solidsfussy eating and helping your child manage different textures of foods and drinks. Generally speaking, babies are given first tastes of food between 4-6 months of age, depending on guidance from your health professional. These foods are usually very runny and soft but quickly your baby can manage thicker purees.

Between 6 and 12 months of age, foods become lumpier and sticks of food are introduced (usually pre-cooked). Water is also introduced from an open cup or a cup with a closed lid such as a Munchkin 360 cup.

After 12 months of age, children should be eating most foods except very hard foods (such as some nuts, popcorn etc).

The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne has a fantastic resource with information about starting solids with your child (

Of course, you can also choose to follow the path of Baby Led Weaning which is an entirely different approach to beginning solids. And not all children follow the same path at the same rate. Some are more interested in foods, others have no interest. Every child is different with regards to both their interest in food as well as their communication development.

Someone always knows someone whose child wasn’t talking at 18 months of age and by 2 they were speaking full sentences. That includes me, I know someone who suddenly spoke long sentences without really having the typical progression through single words and combining short utterances!

But I can also tell you that not all children catch up as easily and may require some additional support to improve their communication skills. Some children (and people) need assistance with identifying safe ways to eat and drink whilst others may have an incredibly limited repertoire of foods they are willing to eat. Every child is different and Speech Pathologists are here to help, we WANT to help.

So what do you do if you are still unsure? Don’t “wait and see”. I firmly believe that it is better safe than sorry. Make an appointment with a Speech Pathologist and get your child assessed. It could be a matter of peace of mind, but it could be that you are taking action sooner and you will be happy you have sought assistance quickly. We all want our kids to have the best start in life, and communication is at the core of all of it.

Check out my blog “How to Find a Speech Pathologist” when you are choosing who is suitable for your child, and feel free to contact us or send me an email at if you want to know more.