It’s common for parents, new and old, to track their babies’ milestones. This can be especially true for parents of twins due to the increased likelihood of premature birth and birth complications.
With twins, you have a front-row seat to two very different kids going through the same developmental stages. It can be doubly wondrous as well as doubly worrisome.
I have boy/girl twins who were born at 35 weeks. I am a bit ashamed to say that I watched their development intensely. I was so nervous they would be behind because of my preeclampsia.
My twins are now 5 and it’s hard to remember a time when they were not talking a mile a minute and I wasn’t praying for peace and quiet.
So, When Do Twins Start Talking?
Twins tend to speak later than their singleton counterparts. In fact, they are twice as likely to have language delays as singletons. This is true for both identical and fraternal twins.
A study out of the University of Kansas followed 473 twins from birth and found that compared to single-born babies, 47% of identical twins and 31% of fraternal twins had language delays.
It’s important to note that none of these kids had disabilities affecting the learning of language.
Language Developments in Twins
There has long been a hypothesis in the twin community that twins were later to talk because their caregivers were more distracted due to the fact they had two babies instead of one.
The KU study found that language development in twins is more likely attributed to hereditary traits as opposed to their environment. And tired parents of twins everywhere breathe a sigh of relief!
How Do Babies Learn to Talk?
Twins might develop language slower as they are also more likely to be premature or have birth complications that are known to cause developmental delays. Babies start to learn communication while they are still in utero.
They are able to hear their mother’s voice during the last three months of pregnancy. Babies hear their mother’s rhythm and melody of voice and then begin to mimic and imitate those after birth.
This language development is a great source of bonding for parent and child.
Average Age Babies Start Talking
Most toddlers begin speaking between 10-14 months. Pediatricians say that babies should have 1-3 words by age 1. These are simple words often repetitive in nature, such as Mama, Dada, or baba for a bottle.
Baby Language Milestone Chart
|Birth-3 months||Recognize parents voice||Coos and smiles|
|4-6 months||Notices changes in tone or sounds, follows with eyes||Babbling and laughing, vocalizes excitement or displeasure|
|7-12 months||Imitates actions or gestures, looks at objects when you talk about them||Longer strings of babbling, imitates speech and noises|
|12 months||Understands simple phrases and recognizes words used regularly||1-2 word vocabulary|
|18 months||Follows simple commands/ points to things in books when said out loud||10-20 Vocabulary words, typically 18 is the norm|
|2 years||Uses gestures in pretend play, follows 2 step directions||50-word vocabulary, uses two-word phrases|
|3 years||Understands time concepts/ understands pronouns and plurals||200-word vocabulary, uses 3-word phrases|
|4 years||Identifies colors, groups things together, understands how and why questions||Make 4-word sentences and uses 4 or more sentences to tell a story.|
Gender and Language
Girls typically speak earlier than boys. This is true for twins and singletons. Almost all developmental disorders that affect speech and language skills affect boys more frequently than girls.
This is most apparent in the autism spectrum disorder, which affects only 1 girl for every 4-5 boys.
Speech Delay in Twins
Research has shown that twins speak 1-3 months later than singleton babies. Therefore, twins developmental timeline for speaking might be anywhere from 10-16 months.
Signs Baby Will Talk Soon
Babies who are soon to talk will begin to show greater recognition of objects or people in their regular environment. This could be excitement when the family pet walks into the room or enthusiastic responses to favorite songs.
Soon-to-speak babies will also be able to follow simple instructions like “give a kiss” or “wave bye-bye.” They also increase their babble into what sounds like actual conversations.
Lastly, babies will begin to attempt simple, monosyllable words, such as Ma or Da.
When To Be Concerned
Babies who prefer gestures over babbling or words at age 1 could be showing signs of a language delay. If a toddler is 18 months and not using words spontaneously and only repeating, this could also be a sign.
Most language delays are fairly evident by the time a child is two. Obviously, if an infant is not responding to noises or vocalizing at all, he or she should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
Home Remedies For the Late-Talking Child
If you are concerned that your baby is not speaking, increase communication with them. Sing songs, read more books, and talk to them as you go about your day.
A study of 2,200 infants in over 67 laboratories in 16 different countries found that speaking to babies in a higher tone and using slower speech that is repetitive helps babies learn language.
So keep that baby talk coming! But maybe not in the grocery store.
Do Twins Walk Later?
85% of children walk between the ages of 10-14 months. Most babies will walk before their 1st birthday. Parents should see a doctor if their child is not walking independently by age 18 months. My daughter took her first step at 14 months and, I promise you, she was running by 19 months.
When Do Twins Get Easier?
The truest answer to this often-asked question is probably never and that’s the same for both twins and singletons. Parenting is just not an easy thing. However, the more hopeful and still true answer is about 6 months when they sleep better and interact more.
Life also gets a bit easier when they are 4-5 and are able to do more things independently. Of course, all of this is before they turn 13 and become ridiculously hard all over again.
From the second you learn that there are two babies instead of one, life will never be the same. A twin pregnancy can carry a lot of risks, and that extends even after the babies are born.
Most twins will develop according to the average milestone standards, even if they do so at a slightly slower pace. The difference between twins and singletons at age 4 or 5 is usually very minimal.
My best advice would be to focus on what your baby is doing well rather than focusing on areas where they may be slower. Babies are only babies for a short time, and it would be a travesty to miss it consumed with worry!
Mom of three (including identical twin boys), wife, and owner of Parents Wonder. This is my place to share my journey as a mother and the helpful insights I learn along the way.