Skip to main content

Speech and Language Delays: Common Misconceptions


Significant speech and language delays are directly related to developmental or health issues. But some people blame speech and language delays on things that aren't the cause of true delays, such as:

Developmental differences.

Mild and temporary speech delays can occur. And some children learn new words faster than others do. But if your child isn't saying words by 18 months, or can say fewer than 50 words by 24 months, talk to your doctor. Don't assume that delays are the result of normal differences in development.


It's instinct for young children to practice speech and language as these skills emerge. They don't hold back out of laziness. But intimidation, stress, fear, or other problems may delay their speech.

Having older siblings.

Younger children may start to talk slightly later than their older brothers or sisters did. But having one or more older siblings doesn't cause significant speech and language delays.

Being a boy.

Girls usually are ahead of boys in language development after the first year, but there is only a slight difference. Significant delays aren't caused by gender.


Children raised in bilingual homes may have a slight delay in starting to speak. They also may mix both languages until they are about 3 to 4 years old. After that, they usually speak both languages well. Children who grow up in bilingual homes don't have more trouble learning to talk, read, and write than those who are learning one language. In fact, learning two or more languages at a young age may boost a child's overall ability to learn.

Related Information


Current as of: October 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.


PeaceHealth endeavors to provide comprehensive health care information, however some topics in this database describe services and procedures not offered by our providers or within our facilities because they do not comply with, nor are they condoned by, the ethics policies of our organization.