Dear Jacqui, My daughter is nearly 3 years old and is not speaking clearly or saying as many words as children her age. Is this normal, and will she outgrow it?

I would want to ask some questions to ascertain why your daughter is not speaking clearly, and what words she understands and uses.

  • Has she had a hearing test?
  • Has she had frequent colds or ear infections?
  • Has she had any eating or drinking difficulties i.e. difficulty chewing meat?
  • Is she a clumsy child?
  • Is she pointing or using gestures to help make herself understood?
  • Is she getting frustrated with her difficulty communicating?
  • Is she mumbling or are there particular sounds that she says or does not say?
  • What nouns and verbs does she understand e.g. cup/drink and what words is she saying?

The answers to these questions will help to clarify what the underlying factors are and if your daughter is within the normal developmental range for her age or not. I recommend that your child is seen by a Speech and Language therapist for an assessment as these early years for speech and language development are crucial for later literacy and academic success.  If indicated, I treat children who are 2 or 3 years old who are having specific problems, through a play therapy and parent directed approach, and they can make very good progress. Early intervention if possible is far better than leaving it until the school years.