Speech Delay – Do Boys Talk Later Than Girls?

Hi, dear worried-parent,

Yes, there is evidence that boys tend to start talking later than girls, but the difference isn’t huge, rather a matter of only a few months. Speech skills and language development milestones are acquired within a normal range, and girls tend to be on the earlier side of the range while boys are on the end side of the range, but overall, kids should acquire the milestones within that range.

Having another one of those play-dates usually brings up anxiety for parents, especially if you think your child is lagging behind his peers. Sure, your mind keeps telling you not to compare your kid with others, but the emotional side really eats you up thinking- is something wrong with my son?

You need to keep in mind that every child learns and achieves milestones at different rates. While your elder kid started saying mama and dada by the time she was 11 months old, this isn’t necessarily to happen again with your second child.

But, having said that, although research indicates boys to be late-talkers than girls, they should start speaking some words, even if it isn’t pronounced correctly, within the normal range of time.

To tell you my truth, my son is 16 months old, and he doesn’t talk much. Sure, he blabbers a lot and speaks something or the other in his own language, but nothing that an adult would understand.

When I laid down my concerns with the pediatrician, she assured me that this is the start of some kids trying to speak certain words and imitate us. The doc told me to set aside some time every day to spend with him solely and try to talk to him, sing to him, and tell a story (even if it’s the same story every day).

She told me that consistency and repetition are the keys. The more you repeat the words every day, the more he’ll try to imitate me and start talking.

Do boys talk later than girls?

A toddler boy is sitting on the bed, watching a video on his tablet.

The short answer is yes, but the complicated answer is not really no.

Why? You ask.

Boys do tend to talk later than girls, but only by a few months. There’s a normal range within which speech skills milestones are acquired, and generally, girls are on the earlier side of that range, and boys are on the later side of the range.

But, kids do generally acquire those speech skills within that range, and if not, early intervention with a speech-language pathologist is needed.

Also, it’s important to remember that even though boys tend to start talking later than girls, you shouldn’t ignore any speech skills delay by terming and justifying it by ‘oh, it’s fine, they’re boys, and they talk late”.

Parents should keep a close eye on their child’s development and reach out to the pediatrician if he’s not meeting the communication milestones. Is your little one at the age where he can sing and remember the ABC song?

You know your child best, what troubles him, his achievements, what he can and can’t do is best known by you. so, if you suspect him lagging behind or not meeting the required milestones, early intervention would bring him back to track with the other kids (again, don’t compare your kids with others, and always consult the doctor before presuming anything).

There’s another reason why boys tend to speak later than girls, according to studies on why language development varies between the sexes-and this is because of hormones. The study shows that high prenatal testosterone levels in males are a risk factor for language delays in boys.

What can parents do about speech-delay in kids?

The key is communication. Right from when they’re little, start speaking to them. You don’t have to use complex sentences, but also don’t use sentences that have only 3 words in them.

Rather, speak to them normally, and speak to them about everything you’re doing.

Reduce screen time. The easiest thing parents do (I’m guilty too) is hand over the phone or switch on the TV for kids while they get their work done. The more your child spends his time in front of a screen, the more time he’ll take to talk and achieve his milestones.

As they grow, sit with them every day, and introduce them to different educational toys and books that are age-appropriate.

Read them stories and converse with them. While playing with them, be on their eye level and start speaking small words for them to imitate you. You’ll notice that they keep looking at your lips and soon start imitating what you say.

Once your child accepts you as their “play partner,” they’ll soon become more receptive towards you. Don’t forget to praise them like “good job” or “I like the way you did it.”

Have fixed time every day for your little play-date, and introduce more fun elements during that time. The more fun your kid has while learning new words, the more likely he will start using them in normal conversation.

If your child doesn’t seem to follow what you’re saying or isn’t able to understand simple requests, then consult your doctor, and they might request a hearing test or refer you to a speech-language pathologist, who can formally evaluate your kid further.


What age is considered as “late talkers”?

A toddler between the age of 18 to 30 months, who has a good understanding of language, has developed play skills, motor skills, and social skills but has a limited spoken vocabulary for his age.

What is Einstein syndrome?

Einstein syndrome is a condition where a child has a delay in speech skills but shows giftedness in other areas of analytical thinking.

What are the signs of autism in a 2 to 3-year-old?

They may not be able to speak, not be interested in playing with other kids, struggling to follow simple instructions, have limited speech. They have a limited inventory of sounds, gestures, or words.

Consult your doctor first if you suspect your kid having the majority of the above signs.


I know what it feels like when your child doesn’t speak the normal words that other kids his age do with ease because I’m literally in the same boat as you. But, before you go on the panic ride, talk to the pediatrician first.

Educate yourself about different milestones your kid should achieve and take further appropriate actions. Early intervention is really the best option for any kid with speech delay.

Whatever the outcome is, you need to keep calm and not stress too much about something that might not be as grave as you think. So, take a deep breath, trust your instincts, and love and help your kid with whatever they need you for.

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Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid,  you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best'.

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