While not typical, such a situation is not necessarily cause for panic. What is important, are the signs of language readiness.

* Does your child point to objects? Pointing to a toy he wants or to a picture in a book is closely related to the beginning of actual speech.

* Does he seem to understand what you say? Does he react when you call his name when you’re out of sight? The ability to understand language precedes the ability to talk. If your child seems to comprehend a great deal of what others are saying, he’s on his way to talking.

* Does your child use gestures and facial expressions to communicate? Many kids communicate what they need nonverbally, and in fact most 2-year-olds develop a repertoire of nonverbal signals.

* Does your child make sounds/babble? Don’t worry about the clarity of words at this point. Listen for sounds or ‘words’ that are consistent. E.g. wa – for water. Children who aren’t yet talking and don’t verbalise are more likely to later be diagnosed with a language delay.

If your child isn’t showing these signs of readiness, you should make an appointment for a speech and hearing screening. Talk with his GP, Paediatrician, or Maternal and Health Nurse. In general, the earlier a language delay is detected, the easier it is to treat. Many language problems can be treated effectively in the years before starting school so that your child will have no long-term deficits.