How important are those first words?

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The 25 ‘must have’ words are part of a much larger list of 310 words that should be in a toddler’s vocabulary and designed to be ticked off in 10 minutes by parents.

The words and phrases, which cover toys, food, animals and, of course, include mummy and daddy and bye bye are designed to detect youngsters who could struggle with words for years come.

Being slow to talk can also be a sign of deeper problems from deafness to autism. The average child will know 150 of the words in the Language Development Survey but scores of 75 to 225 are normal.

Many late-talkers are simply late bloomers, so the professor says that if a child is otherwise developing normally, parents shouldn’t panic.

But if the child is still struggling for words by two and a half, they should consider help such as speech therapy, and certainly not put this off past the age of three.

Alarm bells should start ringing if a toddler uses just 50 of the words or less, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference heard, but do parents agree?

Emma Evans said: “My daughter’s 22 months and said ‘mumma’ and ‘dadda’ at six months, ‘cat’ at nine months then by the age of one could say 30 words.

“Now she says too many words to count and has been doing sentences since she was 18 months.

“But it was very different from my first child’s experience who’s three and a half and has Global Developmental Delay and Cerebral Palsy and can only say three or four words.

“I think the most relevant words are mumma, dadda, drink, any foods they eat, wee, poo, tired and so on.”

Paula Fletcher, from Corby, said: “Toddlers should speak when they want and are ready.

“My daughter has said 15+ words and she’s 15 months. The rest of it is all in her own language.

“This list just puts pressure on the parents and worries them.”

Pauline Ellis, said: “My daughter at two-years-old was using loads of words, anybody could understand her and have a good chat with her.

“My son, on the other hand, did not barely say any words at all, I could not get a speech therapist for him as they said I was comparing him to my daughter.

“So by the time he started school at nearly five he still was unable to say any recognisable words. I read to him, we had listening games we played all kinds of games to help him but at last his teacher got a speech therapist and after a couple of months he was okay and he is now a policeman working in CID.

“So if anybody out there has a child who does not conform, please do not worry.”

Brooke Thurbon said: “I think it’s a load of rubbish and puts yet more stress and worry on parents than is necessary. All children develop at their own rate and does not necessarily mean something is wrong.

“My younger brother said very few words until he was about four and started school. There was absolutely nothing wrong with him.

“When he did start talking it was very clear, concise, and he had a large range of words that were quite complex and advanced for his age. The bottom line was he was just lazy!

“My daughter seems to know very few words but you can guarantee that when she wants something she will surprise me by saying exactly what she wants.

“She’ll talk properly when she’s ready and I’m certainly not going to be worrying over whether she can say 10 or 300 words at the age of two.