"We had my daughter's 9 month check-up yesterday (a few days shy of her 9 month birthday) and the pediatrician said he isn't overly concerned about but that we should keep an eye on my daughter's babbling, or lack thereof. She is on track developmentally with all other milestones but really doesn't babble at all. She engages with my husband and me as well as others, smiles when smiled at, imitates certain actions like clapping or blowing raspberries, is very interested in activity - notices when someone leaves or enters the room, watches and is amused by the dog, and at our playgroups she seems interested in other babies. Her hearing also appears to be completely normal, she passed her screening at birth and has not had any ear infections and responds to sounds. So my gut tells me that if there is anything amiss it is probably specifically speech related and not something broader (autism spectrum).
I don't work and she is my only child so I thought maybe she's just not hearing as much language as babies her age with siblings or in daycare. While I do talk to her a lot (narrating activity) and read and sing to her, you can't talk every minute of the day! And the thing is, my husband is somewhat of an introvert and not much of a talker so maybe there's a genetic component?
I was hoping some of your readers may have experience with a late talker that sounds similar to mine."
I sometimes think we know way too much. I can't, in my wildest dreams, imagine classifying a 9-month-old who doesn't babble a "late talker." I'm sticking with the standard "20 words by 20 months" rule that's applied for years and years. (And by "words" they mean a noises that consistently means the same thing, like barking when they see a dog, or making fire engine noises, or saying a special word to mean something.)
What I've always been told, and what I saw playing out in rather dramatic fashion as the kids in our playgroup turned 2 and then 3, was that receptive language is the key. If kids understand and respond, then they'll be fine with language even if it takes them longer to get there and they need a little help. My older son was an extremely early talker, as was one of the other girls in the group. There was another boy and another girl who were hardly talking when they were 2, but understood everything and could follow directions (as much as any toddler does).
The girl was hitting all her other milestones, but barely said more than 5 words by the time she was 3. By the time she was 4, there was no difference in her speech and no one would have known who was the late talker. It just took her longer to get there for some reason.
The boy was also not walking by the time he was 20 months, so his parents got an early intervention assessment and it turned out he had some low muscle tone. They started working with a physical therapist and a speech therapist. It turns out that for some kids, movement and speech is linked. Once he started walking, it was as if someone just flicked a switch and he went from 5-10 words to 400 over the course of two weeks. It had all been stored up there in his brain, but he just wasn't able to get it out until the walking fell into place. They worked with a speech therapist for about 6 months to help with the low muscle tone in his jaw (which caused some enunciation problems), and by the time he was 4 you'd have had no idea he was late at either walking or talking.
I know these aren't expert assessments of what's going on with your daughter. They're stories meant to show that all kids are different, and some kids do some things earlier and some later. The mom of the girl never felt like there was anything wrong. The mom of the boy felt like there was something wrong, and it turned out she was right. I think that you should pay attention to your own feelings, your "mom spidey sense," and follow that. If you think there's something up, then look for help, even if your doctor brushes you off. But if she's on target and is responsive and happy, then she may just skip the babbling phase, or do it late.
Anyone want to share stories either of "late talkers," or of trusting your instincts and how that went?