June 21, 2021

Ask Amy - Is Childhood Stuttering Something To Be Concerned About?

Stuttering occurs when a child's speech development lags behind what they want to say. It's best not to finish their sentences or focus on it. But "ignore it" doesn't necessarily mean "never get a professional opinion or seek therapeutic support."

It can be confusing and a little concerning when a toddler suddenly develops a stutter or a stammer. A member of our Facebook group asked:

My daughter (27 months) seems to have recently developed a stammer/stutter, or maybe it has just gotten to the point where we notice it now. Instead of saying "Can I have that?" like she used to, she now says "Ca- ca- ca- can I have that?". It's usually only at the beginning of a sentence or thought, and most often when she is excited. But it's happening a lot.

Part of me thinks it's nothing to get too worried over as she is only two, she's still developing her language skills, and it's more prevalent when she is excited. And the other part of me is a little worried.

I've heard it's best to just wait patiently for her to finish her thought and that's what I usually do, although my husband keeps telling her to think about what she wants to say before saying it.

If anyone has gone through this with their little one, did it resolve itself? How? When? What's the best approach?

Stuttering in toddlers is very common, because children's language acquisition skills are more like a zigzag than a straight line. Sometimes stuttering can show up when a child's speech and language development lags behind what he or she needs or wants to say.

It's definitely best for you and your partner to be on the same page about ignoring the stutter. Don't finish her sentences, tell her to slow down, or do other things to draw more attention to it. Your daughter may not even be aware it's happening, which is actually a positive indicator.

But "ignore it" doesn't necessarily mean "never get a professional opinion or seek therapeutic support." Sometimes speech therapy is required. But at your daughter's age it's too early to make that call. You're in the collecting information stage. Don't worry about the stuttering– it's a typical stage in childhood speech development– but do keep a few notes about when it comes and goes, and mention it at your next pediatric visit.

Two useful resources:



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