Obsessive Worrying

So, it seems that when it comes to motion and activity, Little MPB has always been on the advanced side of the normal milestones.  He started rolling over at 7.5 weeks and he hasn’t stopped moving since then.  Of course, since I can be incredibly competitive, I’ve always appreciated his efforts to do things early.  As if somehow his early rolling skills have something to do with Mr. MPB and I (sense the sarcasm – I realize we probably did nothing to promote his rolling over skills).

Anyways, for the first time, Little MPB seems to be slow at reaching a milestone – he has very few words.  He babbles constantly, but he does not distinctly say much. He’s got mama, dada and “og” for Dog.  And, he never really says mama or dada with any intent.

The odd time he says something new, but then he doesn’t repeat it so we have no idea if the word was coincidental babbling or a real word.

Anyways, I feel as though his speech should be more advanced.  It seems as though all the other children we know his age have 20+ words.  Little MPB simply doesn’t have that many words, not even close.

Needless to say his speech has now taken up permanent residence as my obsessive worry.

And when I say obsessive worry, I mean OBSESSIVE!

  • As in, when I was at the doctor for my foot, I asked about his language first.  To which I was told he should have a few more words by 18 months, and if he doesn’t then we will worry more.  And if I’m really worried I can take him for early speech therapy.
  • We read to him constantly, and have since the day he was born – probably 10+ books per day (Little MPB prefers to walk away with the books).
  • I have now purchased flash cards with pictures and first words (Little MPB prefers to eat the cards).
  • I’m debating registering Little MPB for speech therapy (Mr. MPB is begging me to wait a few more months, but will oblige if I register him now because he knows just how worried I am).

I think this speech thing is likely a sign of one of my parenting weaknesses.  I am competitive, I know this about myself.  And, I want to give my child the best opportunities in life, this is incredibly important to me.  But I also realize he just needs to be a kid.  And so, when it comes to academics, I suspect I am going to struggle with the line between being an obsessive parent pushing for top decent grades and just encouraging healthy play time.

I’m trying to take the approach that the fact I see this about myself now is a good thing…  Because I am aware of it, I can hopefully keep myself in check.  Hopefully before I become crazy mom I can remind myself to take a deep breath and chill because kids need to be kids.

So right now, I’m just trying to be patient and I’m just desperately hoping he starts learning more words and using them on a regular basis.

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33 Comments on “Obsessive Worrying

  1. A is a few weeks ahead of baby MPB and he still has v few words.. maybe 2-3 that too gibberish. He says mom and dad, but that is not intentional, I am also dad sometimes.
    G was worse, he didn’t say a word till he turned 18-20 months. He kept babbling away and it meant nothing. At 18 months, its like a switch turns on in them, language starts exploding. Boys are slow talkers anyway, are all his peers (the ones you are comparing with girls or same age as him.. I mean same month?). Girls in A”s daycare who are 9 months old wave and say Hi and Bye and my boy shoves his fingers in his mouth..
    Id say don’t worry as long he is pointing out to stuff and trying to getting your attention( i mean trying to start a conversation with you, e.g. he should be by now, pointing out to the plane and make some sound that sounds like plane or hold your interest and get you to look at the plane as well.).
    Its good you have your eye on it, but I still feel (and I am just a mom of 2 boys, so its personal experience not professional) he is fine and its too early to start any therapy unless there are other red flags as well(e.g. refuses eye contact or hold your attention etc).

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  2. What mamalife said about 18 mos and language is totally spot on. I was worried because language is so import to me and she was on the veeerrrry low end of normal for a while and then wham. Language explosion around 18 mos. Now she’s on the advanced end of the spectrum. I’m not saying you’re wrong to worry, though–listen to your instincts. If it will give you some peace of mind, speech therapy is worth it. ❤️

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  3. My oldest son (who is now almost 7), was slow with his language development when he was around your son’s age. All the other kids his age had more words than him, and their words were much clearer, too. Fast forward to the present. My son has zero issues with speech and language, and he is incredibly smart. I have three kids, and they all reached their milestones at different times. It’s hard to wait and see though, because we all want our children to succeed in life, so I do get it. 🙂

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  4. I was obsessed with my son’s speech also, it’s hard not to be. At one he had zero words, not even mama or dada. At 15 mos he was still only saying maybe one word that kind of sounded like “cat” but he used it for different things. We had him evaluated at that time and they said that though he was technically verbally delayed, he was still communicating (gestures, baby sign language, emotions), so they didn’t recommend speech therapy at that time. He was still behind at about 18 mos (maybe 5 words by then), but once he hit 21 mos or so he really started to catch up. At his 2-year appointment the pediatrician said he was right where he needed to be, and maybe even a little bit advanced. It’s so hard not to worry, but as long as there are not significant other red flags, trust that he will catch up. And also, speech “delays” seem so common that I’m starting to suspect the milestones might be a little inflated 🙂

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  5. I’d like to refer you back to my post last night, fellow worrying mommy!!! It’s fine to be mindful and even somewhat concerned about our kids hitting milestones, but it’s not okay to be obsessive about it. Especially if your ped isn’t concerned at this point. Give him some time to learn and grow on his own, in his own time. Sounds like hitting 18 months seems key for little boys especially for some reason, so see how he’s doing at that point. Hang in there friend! You’re doing an amazing job, and your little is perfect just the way he is 😀

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  6. Please don’t worry about his speech at this stage. Developmental windows are not concrete moments in time and children can be fast or slow and still be 100% normal. He’s all good!

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  7. You are such a great Mom!

    Just wanted to let you know that.

    I have no advice as we are way behind in age, but I totally understand your position, as I am sure I will be the same obsessive way!

    You are doing an amazing job and doing everything you can for your son!

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  8. Totally understand the obsessive worry and competitiveness. It’s awesome when my child is ahead or even just average, but as soon as she seems to be behind in something, I start to worry and/or feel like I’m not doing enough. I think it’s especially common for parents who went through infertility. This is far from scientific, but what I see a lot among my friends and online groups is that kids who are very physical early on tend to be a little behind with language at first. They eventually catch up, many times seemingly overnight. My daughter was opposite – she had lots of words early on, and is still ahead of her peers with language, but she’s not so great with the physical – especially fine motor – stuff.
    wouldn’t rush into speech therapy, but I would keep going the conversation with his doctor each time.

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    • This is exactly what I was going to say, and what our national health visitors (nurses) have told me re J, she’s got only a few words but her motor skills were very early to develop. They said up to Twp years kids are usually one or the other, verbal, or physical, after age Twp they should level out or then is time to be concerned.

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  9. My bestie’s oldest didn’t say a single word until he was 2. He did get speech therapy at that time. He’s one of the smartest and most intuitive kids I know (He’s 9 now). So, don’t worry too much. Baby MPB will come around with a huge language explosion in the next few months. Get the speech therapy if it will make you feel better. Otherwise, don’t worry about it!

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    • And just to commiserate, I’m a worrying mama too (aren’t we all?). My 9+ month old isn’t crawling yet, so we’re considering occupation therapy for that, haha.

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  10. I totally get it. My son is almost 20 months old and I think he has about 12-15 words now. At 17-ish months he basically only had “dada” and “ball”. He barely even said “mama”. While a friend of his, who is the same age, was cranking out, clearly “shoot the ball!” when watching sports on tv, my son couldn’t even say “dog”. Actually, he still can’t even say dog. He has this weird tongue roll, vibration sound of “tsshhiuuuuu” that he says on repeat when he sees dog. So I know he means dog, but for some reason he just keeps repeating his made up word. But when he hit 18 months the words started to come a little bit more. He still has a ton of gibberish, and “quack quack” sounds exactly the same as “cracker”, but he’s slowly progressing. His daycare caregiver said that he’s such an observer that it’s not surprising that he’s slower to speak. He often would rather watch and take everything in than get involved right away. It’s pretty common for boys to be a bit slower when it comes to speech. Little MPB is still young so don’t go rushing him off to speech therapy yet 🙂 In a short amount of time you are going to be shocked at how many words he will be saying. Just like figuring out walking, these little ones have to figure out their speech slowly but surely.

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  11. One of our twin sons had a speech delay and was only saying <20 words by his second birthday. I brought up his sparse vocabulary at his 18-month well check, and his pediatrician didn't seem concerned. Nonetheless, I had him evaluated by the state, and the result was that they said he wasn't delayed enough to qualify for therapy services. By his second birthday, I decided to have him privately evaluated, and at that time, he was a full year behind where he should have been and qualified for speech therapy.

    He received weekly therapy most of the year between 2 and 3, and also had tubes placed in his ears due to fluid. Between those two measures, he was almost fully caught up by 3, and now, at age 5, you would never know that he'd ever had a delay.

    IMO, there is no harm in being concerned and paying attention. Many children have an "explosion" of speech between 12 and 24 months, so this vocabulary deficit may resolve on its own.

    Also, if you allow your baby boy screen time, you might want to check out this video, which was recommended to me by a speech therapist. It's weird, but both my sons liked it. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00027OI1I/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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  12. Right there with you, mama! Our 13.5-month-old still has no words, and I’m trying to figure out when to freak out (which is just sort of what I do; note that I’m not freaking out yet). It’s really confusing, because on the one hand I hear SO many stories like those in this comment thread about kids (maybe especially boys) who didn’t meet verbal milestones and then “caught up” later. On the other hand, the CDC issues guidelines that say no words by 12 months is a red flag, and whenever I see speech therapists weigh in on similar threads (e.g. in some of the mom groups I’m in on facebook) they always say that they expect at least a few words by 15 months and wish that more parents would bring their kids in sooner, since evaluation and therapy have basically no downsides and can have more benefit when they’re started earlier. I’m essentially willing to wait until 18 months, but if he’s still behind then I’ll likely push for evaluation. I’ll be interested to hear how you sort out your own feelings on this issue. I totally get the conflict: you want to be the laid-back mom and enjoy your kid and value all his strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses and obsessing about development, but you’d also feel terrible if you ignored signs of a problem and let it go too long without intervention. It’s a doozie, and I suspect not the last time we’ll be facing these issues as parents.

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  13. My daughter will talk when it’s quiet. When the tv/music is on she’s silent. When adults are talking, she doesn’t talk. But the minute no one is saying anything she starts babbling and talking. It’ll happen 🙂

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  14. Ansel is also on the back end of normal for language development, so I understand the intense worry. He is definitely catching up, and he is meeting the milestones laid out by the pediatrician (which, FYI, are different than my perceived ideas of ‘normal’ – maybe yours too?) – I believe by 2 he needed 20 words total, 10 of which needed to be ‘clear.’ – He got most of those in the last couple of months, honestly. Just recently, he’s started repeating almost everything we say, but by recently, I mean in the last week and a half. I do think Baby MBP will be there, but I also really affirm meeting with a speech therapist if it will help you calm down. I’ve been moments away from calling First Steps myself and then A will go and say a bunch of new words and I’ll put down the phone. Deep breaths – you are doing a great job!

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  15. I get it. My husband is always telling me to relax about things but it’s so hard to do! This is your little boy and you want the best for him (and want to get help if he needs it). I feel the same about my little girl. Seems to be common judging by the comments you’ve received. Hugs!

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  16. It’s really, really common for kids to focus on specific areas at a time, and by about 3 they start to really even out across verbal, fine motor, and grips motor skills. It sounds like Little MPB has focused on his motor skills first, and that he’s not behind in his verbal skills. He’s just not at the front of the pack there.

    That’s not to say you won’t obsess over it until it’s clear he’s developing those skills at a faster rate though. 🙂

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  17. Well, I can tell you that BG was slow to add words (partially because we taught signs for her main concern–food–she can say “eat”, “more”, and “all done”). By 28 months I couldn’t name 10 words that she used with clarity or regularity. But lemme tell you, at 2 years old, just a month ago now, something *clicked* and now she is talking constantly and adding words every day. It’s quite amazing. So I won’t tell you not to worry (you are a mom, it’s what we do) but I bet your pediatrician will tell you everything is fine. XOXO

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  18. Just want to comment quickly. How old is your little guy now? As a speech therapist who works with toddlers (my area is early intervention), I can say that some kids take longer to really start talking. I’d say that if he still doesn’t add more words by 16 or 17 months, it doesn’t hurt to get him checked out at 18 months. As for now, reading is great. Singing is great. Talking and playing with him while narrating to him is great. Like, when he is doing something, you tell him what he is doing. If he’s pushing a car, you can tell him “Push!” If he brings a box to you for you to open, you can say “Open” while opening the box. The key is to tell a word each time you are doing something or he is doing something. You model the word without asking him to repeat. That way he hears many words that are associated with the objects or actions. I’m not surprised he eats your flash cards. They are no fun. Play different things and toys with him and teach him language that way. Continue reading with him even if he walks away. Read a page or two or three each time. We can talk offline if you would like more tips on how to stimulate his language.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for this comment!!! (I’ve been trying to remember to get back to you all week now!)
      I would love any advice you are willing to give us! Daycare mentioned yesterday they think he’s trying to say outside – which would be his first real word. Which has me so incredibly excited, even if I’m not the one who gets to hear it. (He loves the outside more then anything else in the world, and we actually use the word outside a lot in our house because that’s our dog’s word going outside to go to the bathroom – so I’m not surprised he is trying to say it).
      I took particular note of your comment “without asking him to repeat” – I think we’ve said “can you say xx?” over a thousand times. Maybe we just need to focus more on simply stating what we are doing and waiting for him to pick up the words himself?
      If you are willing, please feel free to email me anytime – myperfectbreakdown@gmail.com.
      Thank you again!!

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      • What’s little MPB’s age?

        Yes! No need to tell him to say anything. If you highlight the one word that you are emphasizing on, he’ll eventually catch on, and hopefully naturally imitate you rather than being demanded by you. I will write more to you privately soon.

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  19. I just want to echo what Isabelle said, as the daughter of a speech therapist, that indeed all kids start talking at different ages, and boys generally later than girls. My mom is always telling me how I started talking so early and so clearly and with so many words. When my son didn’t do this at all, I was starting to worry. My mom said that as long as I didn’t have concerns about his comprehension, I shouldn’t worry this early. She also lent me a book called the New Language of Toys, that does what Isabelle mentioned above and talks about how you can build language while playing. It’s designed for special needs communications development, but is also useful for any kid. I would agree on waiting until at least 18m, and continuing to consciously work on language skills until then. I think it is really common, especially for boys, for language to come a bit later than we expect.

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  20. I think your worry is normal, but it sounds like your son is completely normal too 🙂 Of course it does not hurt to make an appointment with a specialist if the situation does not change before he is 20-24 months, but there is really no reason to panic at his age (although this is just my opinion based on large observed variation in a bunch of kids of friends, relatives, and my own, I’m in no way expert on speech development).
    What I wanted to add to other comments was that if you have talked and read to him during his first year (which you have done), that is totally enough for a baby to develop to his or her full potential. You could not have speeded his development by reading even more, or by making some elaborate “exercises”. You have definitely done enough (more than enough it sounds!). It seems to me that differences between kids that are due to environmental factors (family environment) at this age are very “crude”, meaning that neglect vs. no neglect makes a difference, but reading 1 vs. 3 books a day probably does not (later it might).
    I did not read much to my kids during the first year because they were not so interested when I tried (I did talk to them all the time though :)) . And my first one started talking somewhat coherently at about 14 months and my second at about 10 months. I do believe the variation is very much do to innate dispositions. Also, my understanding is that whether the child learns to speak early vs. late has no bearing on the child’s later academic skills (if the children with serious developmental delays are left out of the equation)

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  21. Oh I hear you on this worry! A was the same. Physically, he was/is way ahead on milestones but speech took him forever! At 20 month I was so happy he said Grandpa to my dad on his birthday, and then my SIL posted a video of my niece (who’s 6 weeks older than A) singing the entire birthday song to my dad. I was completely deflated. I talked to the pediatrician a lot about my worries and she said we could do early speech therapy but that she wasn’t worried because he was saying words and communicating. She reassured me that some kids, especially boys just take a bit longer. Sure enough, by his second birthday he was chatting up a storm. He doesn’t stop talking now. So I say trust your gut on the speech therapy (it can’t hurt either way) but I’m sure baby MPB is just fine and will start having lots of words very soon. And I’m sure daycare will help. I know A started talking a lot more when he was around other kids his age more.

    Ps. I started using the flash cards around 12-15 months too and all A wanted to do was eat the cards too! So funny! Now A likes to use them more though he also just likes to throw them around. Such silly kids! 😂

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  22. For what it’s worth, my son was a very late walker and that was WITH physical therapy assistance. He was. however, advanced with his speech. Basically the reverse of what you’ve got going on where your son is highly advanced in his motor skills (want he trying to walk well before 9 months?! That’s crazy advanced and so awesome!). My personal, non-professional opinion is that when you have a child that excels in one space, their energy and brain focuses in that skill and the rest will catch up. I believe your son will do the same…he’s just kicking butt and taking names in the gross motor department right now and the words will come later. And from my own personal experience, if you do have that nagging worry like I did, there’s no harm in seeing a specialist. We were very glad that we did the physical therapy for my boy and saw incredible results… I definitely don’t regret giving him that little boost. Big hugs! Momming is hard!

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  23. I’m sure it will be fine. I know a number of examples of late talkers that stressed their parents out for no good reason. You may find once he has been at daycare for awhile that they all spurt forth. They do like to copy their peers and daycare has so many more people that there is greater input. It is great to be onto it if you need to be but I’m sure it will be just fine 🙂

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  24. how old is baby MBP? maeve didn’t really say significant words until about 14 months… i can’t even fully remember now haha. she said mama and dada and that was about it and then one weeked she started say 8 new words! it snowballed from there and now, at one week away from her second birthday, she just said “maeve birfday comin’ up soon!” after school today 🙂 don’t stress mama. it will all fall into place. besides the sooner he starts talking, the sooner he will be telling you “NO” 😉 lol

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  25. I know it’s hard, but I wouldn’t worry too much yet. I have twins that were just over 18 months when they started with me at the beginning of the year and they were very quiet, didn’t have many speech skills at all, especially the boy. They turned 2 in February and a light switched on and they don’t stop chatting, especially the boy. He’s a little jabber jaws and repeats everything now. Try to give it a little time if you can! 🙂 Every kiddo is different.

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  26. I was of great concern to my mother as she already had my older brother who is severely mentally challenged. I didn’t say a word ….till I was three…my maternal grandfather told mom that I was fine …as I comprehending what was going on around me…and what ppl said
    to me…I just didn’t say anything. Mom says I turned three and went from not speaking at all…to telling stories…and answering ppl with multi word sentences. As far as being competitive, getting straight A’s does not guarantee that someone will be successful or happy. Now it seems like a lot of parents want perfect grades these days. They push and push regardless of the child talents or interests. My parents pushed me to get the best grades I could. I was never good at math, but did very well in bio and psychology. I can’t imagine how frustrated I would of been if they had just wanted A’s in all classes. I think ppl forget to teach their kids that while work and school are important…..so is self respect and respecting others, and knowing how to enjoy life….that play is as important as work. You two wont be perfect as parents…no parent is…but you love him and thats the best advantage a kid can have.

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    • I see I am not the only person up in the middle of the night…but I can’t blame it on having kids…lol

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