14-Month-Old Not Talking: Should You Be Worried?

After a baby is born, their progress can be tracked by reaching milestones instead of trimesters. There is typically an expectation for children to achieve these milestones earlier than expected or at a specific age, which can act as both an encouragement and a source of tension.

Reaching for milestones in speech, language, and motor skills begins right away. These milestones add another layer of pressure to the parenting journey.

When should my 14-month-old be talking? Why are they not saying complete sentences? My toddler is only babbling; is this normal?

Development is measured along a curve. Each child’s journey is unique. Some toddlers babble and string together sounds, much of which need to be interpreted.

Some toddlers spew fully articulated sentences and sing songs from memory. So when do you worry? What is normal?

Should a 14-month-old be talking? Speech development milestones at 14 months old vary quite a bit from child to child. First words generally appear between 12 – 15 months. Most of these first words will be babble sounds with intention or imitation often coupled with gestures.

Children generally will have only 3 – 5 spoken words at 14 months, but their receptive language will be far greater.

At this stage, they are working on mimicking sounds and speech patterns while combining them with gestures to communicate.

What is the difference between language and speech? What should by 14-month-old be communicating? When should I worry? Let’s break down language development milestones for a 14-month-old.

14-Month-Old Language Development

Language development for a 14-month-old is broken down into two parts:

At this stage, 14-month-olds have a great deal more receptive language than expressive. Their expressive language skills are still in the babble, imitation, and gesturing phases.

14-month-olds now are expanding their expressive language skills by combining them with spoken language, sounds, or words. 

How Many Words Should a 14-Month-Old Say?

Generally, children will have 3 – 5 words mastered between 12 and 15 months. Typical words at this stage include “Mama,” “Dada,” and one to two simple words such as “bye,” “ball,” or “dog.”

It is important to note that these words will not be articulated to perfection, and they can be sounds paired with gestures that signal what your toddler is trying to communicate. 

How Many Words Should a 14-Month-Old Understand?

At 14-months, your toddler should understand up to 100 words or more. A toddler will acquire a new word every day between 12 and 15 months.

Every day, your little one quickly absorbs new words and gestures, skyrocketing their understanding while still developing the skills to express all of their newfound language skills into speech. 

Normal Talking for 14-Month-Old

A 14-month-old normally has between 3 – 5 words. Typical words at this stage include “Mama,” “Dada,” and one or two simple words. Words can range between simple verbs like “go” or “up” or sibling names.

These words will not be expressed to perfection. Many “words” may sound like sounds or parts of words. These words and sounds paired with imitation and gestures will give you clues to what your toddler is trying to communicate.

14-Month Old Not Talking

If your 14-month-old is not talking yet, it’s okay. The first words can develop anywhere from 12-18 months.

By 12-18 months, your toddler typically should be using language more recognizably.

Encourage babble/talking by engaging in chatter with your little one and using simple phrases and directions in a meaningful manner. Use repetition to encourage imitation from your toddler.

Use gestures and facial expressions when communicating with your little one to make speech and language more motivating.

Studies show that late talkers tend to catch up to their peers by preschool age. Studies also show that 1 in 4 children are late talkers.

Don’t rush your little one to talk. If they are making sounds, using gestures, or displaying receptive language, they are developing language skills. 

How Clear Should Speech Be at 14 Months?

Don’t expect melodies or sonnets at this age; much of your child’s speech will still be sounds “m, b, d, p, and t.” In addition to sounds, much of their language will be backed up with gestures and facial expressions to get their point across.

Coordination and vocabulary haven’t quite caught up to the excitement and motivation to talk at this age. Many of the babble and sounds your child makes will still need to be translated and provided with meaning.

True words typically develop between 12 and 19 months. Clarity of speech can happen much later into toddlerhood. Many kindergartners are still working on correct word and letter sounds.

Twin toddler dressed in blue lying head to head on floor.

What To Expect

Language and speech development varies among children. Typically, children follow a curve of development.

Speech and language development start immediately as children develop receptive language and imitation from songs, games, and social interactions.

8 – 12 Months: Between eight and 12 months, children begin to use sounds and gestures to communicate, essentially babbling with purpose.

12 – 18 Months: Those who haven’t started babbling by 12 months generally begin imitation, sounds, noises, gestures, and babbling between 12 and 18 months. If your child hasn’t started these behaviors by 18 months, they could just simply be late talkers.

18 – 24 Months: From 18 to 24 months, major language milestones begin to develop. During this time sounds and babbling turn into recognizable words, and words turn into a string of two-word statements. If your child was late to talking, they may still use gestures and sounds to communicate their needs.

When To Worry

Children follow different paths during early language development. What is most important is that your child is showing understanding.

If your child is making gestures and following simple directions, that shows you that they are capable of communication.

It takes some children longer to master speech than others. When in doubt, contact your child’s pediatrician or a speech pathologist.

Contact your pediatrician if you notice red flags including:

  • No babbling or sounds with purpose by the age of one
  • If your child does not seem to understand or respond to you when you talk
  • If your child has not said one word by the age of 18 months
  • If your child isn’t making sounds purposely or spontaneously, only mimicking or imitating by the age of 2
  • If your child isn’t following simple directions by the age of 2
  • If your child has a strange tone of voice, raspy or nasally (it could be preventing them from being able to communicate properly

How To Teach Your Baby To Talk

Babies understand much more than they can express. The best way to teach your baby to talk is to talk to them, at them, and with them.

Repetitive songs, phrases, and melodies also encourage talking. Reading to children daily will instill a love for language and expression.

Tips for encouraging your baby to talk include:

  • Watch, listen, respond, and praise.
  • Watch your baby’s facial expressions, gestures, and body language.
  • Listen to your baby’s noises, attempts at distinct sounds, and repetitive language to help encourage sounds of purpose.
  • Respond to your little one even if they are making noises or “gibberish.” By validating your child’s attempts with a response, you are encouraging further communication.
  • Praise your little for their words, gestures, and communication attempts.

More ways to help support your little one’s language skills include imitation, narration, and, easiest and best of all, PLAY!

What Should a 14-Month-Old Be Doing?

At 14 months, babies start transitioning into toddlerhood and at 14 months, many start testing independence.

With independence may come a sense of opinion resulting in tantrums, power struggles, or just flat-out refusals. Some may be practically sprinting while others are still summoning the courage to take their first steps.

Some 14-month-olds are talking in a string of sentences and words sounding like words while others have yet to make any coherent words.

At 14 months old, all babies should be growing, teething, trying new foods, and getting enough sleep.

At 14 months old, children should be able to crawl on their hands and knees or scoot on their bums, feed themselves with their thumb and forefinger, push toys and explore cause and effect.

Whether they are currently walking or not, they should be attempting to take their first steps by being able to pull themselves into a standing position.

Attempting to communicate is also important, whether or not if it is words, gestures, or babbling, and expressive language should be emerging if not already established by 14 months. 

14-Month-Old Development Red Flags

Although early childhood development varies from child to child, there are certain red flags to look out for.

  • Does not crawl or scoot, drags half of the body on the floor when attempting to crawl.
  • Cannot hold self up standing without support
  • Does not make eye contact
  • Does not learn gestures such as waving, shaking head, or clapping
  • Shows little to no interest in interaction or toys
  • Doesn’t respond to name
  • Making no noises, babbling, or sounds
  • Loses skill that they once possessed

If your child exhibits one or more of these red flags, talk to your family care provider or pediatrician to see if there is an underlying cause or reason for these delays in development.

Signs of Autism in 14-Month-Old

Autism affects 1 in every 166 children. It isn’t rare and can be spotted as early as 14 months. Spotting the signs of autism early opens the door to services, therapies, and resources for early interventions.

Signs of autism in a 14-month-old include:

  • Limited to no eye contact
  • Rarely shows affection or enjoyment with you
  • Rarely shows interest in you or shares interests with you
  • Rarely attends to name or attempts at social interaction and communication
  • Difficultly gesturing, attending to (looking at) and making sounds all at once
  • Shows little to no interest in imitating others, social play, or engaging in pretend play
  • Moving, pulling, or using your hand as a tool in place of communication
  • More interest in objects and toys than people 
  • Repetitive movements or behaviors
  • Develops rituals and becomes very upset over any change
  • Excessive interest in specific objects or activities
  • Unusual or upsetting reaction to sounds, lights, or textures
  • Strong interest in unusual sensory experiences

If your child shows six or more of these early signs of autism, contact your pediatrician and ask for a diagnostic referral.

Related Questions:

What Should a 14-Month-Old Be Eating?

Variety is key, so incorporate various foods into your little one’s diet. 14-month-olds should get about 1,000 calories a day give or take 40 calories depending on weight.

14-month-olds should be eating three meals and two snacks a day. No need to restrict fats as toddlers need them for brain development, but try to limit overly sugary or salty foods.

Remember 14-month-olds are still prone to choking, so ensure you are cutting up foods and monitoring them while they eat.

If you have an overly picky eater, remember most toddlers love independence, so anything they can pick up and feed themselves is going to be a win!

Can Babies Learn More Than One Language?

Babies are sponges when it comes to language. It is easier for babies to learn multiple languages than adults. The rule of thumb is that a baby must be exposed to the language 30% of the time to obtain fluency.

Learning more than one language depends on the amount and type of practice or exposure that your child gets. Laying the foundation for a bilingual or multilingual child provides a priceless and useful tool for their futures.

Ways to help your child become bilingual include music, TV, language programs, social groups, and talking in different languages at home. The more they are exposed to the language, the more understanding they will obtain.

Final Thoughts

Developmental milestones are a standard set of generalized rules, and with each child being unique there is some give and take to these developmental markers.

14-month-olds are transitioning between babies and toddlerhood, which is a big leap in their development happening all at once. Not all 14-month-olds will talk, not all will walk, and no two are the same.

There is a community of parents worldwide in the same position, looking at the same articles, celebrating, worrying, and stressing.

To encourage your child to grow and develop language and speech skills, talk with them, sing with them, read to them, and, most important of all, play with them.