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  1. #1

    Default Language delays and twins

    OK, so there seems to be a general concern about language development. Everyone seems to be a bit worried that their children are behind developmentally. I've been doing some research and I hate to tell you this gals, but it's normal. Twins tend to lag behind singletons in terms of language development. It's not because they have some special language that only the two of them can understand, it seems to be because there are two of them.

    Let me explain. There are 2 main reasons why twins seem to have language delays. First, often times they're premature and may have biological delays that impede language growth. As twins 'catch' up biologically, language improves. Second, and what I think is most interesting, is that parents have to direct speech to both children. Krista, Erika, & Rach (for instance), think about when you only had one child. You could sit down in front of your child and talk to him. There wasn't a lot of commotion around and you could know that he was listening to you and you could label things. Fast forward to having the twins. As much as you may try to focus your speech on one twin at a time, the other twin is usually doing something in the background that you have to attend to. As a result, each child does not get as much directed communication with you.

    I found one website that had a lot of good language suggestions and I've requested a review article on twins' language development. I'll review it and pass it along if it seems interesting.

    The bottom line to remember... ALL CHILDREN LEARN TO SPEAK AND LEARN LANGUAGE. It's OK if it takes some kids a bit longer. In a few years, we're all going to be complaining that they never shut up!

    So this is the link to what follows. I just copied and pasted the stuff relevant to language, but if you want the full link, this is it.

    Suggestions for promoting language growth.
    1. Make a point of learning to recognise, and seize opportunities, as they occur, to talk to one twin at a time.

    2. As well, actively create opportunities to talk to one twin at a time. For example: a couple of nights a week bath them separately; when the family goes for a walk, one parent take one twin around the block in one direction, and the other parent take the rest of the family around the block in the other direction, and meet up; on family walks, have one parent and a twin leave earlier or later than the rest of family, and meet at the destination.

    3. When you give directions to your twins, give them to each twin individually (not to both at once). Make your directions or instructions simple and specific, using a minimum of words, but remaining grammatical. e.g., "John, put your socks in the basket..." then "Lucy, put your socks in the basket too".

    4. When a twin follows a direction (does what s/he is asked or told to do) praise him or her individually. Don't let your twins always have to make do with joint praise. e.g., "Thank you John. It's a good help when you put your socks in the basket for Daddy" then "Oh Lucy! That's great. You put your socks in the basket just like I said".

    5. When you are playing with both children, or doing an activity with them, try to have one twin finish their conversation with you. Let each twin have two or three or four conversational "turns" (you speak, child speaks, you speak, child speaks...). Make sure they have said what they need to say, and had a chance to listen, without interruption, to what you are telling them.

    6. When one twin asks a question, answer that twin directly.

    7. Remember that when interacting verbally taking turns to listen is as important as taking turns to talk.

    8. Remember also to value silence. Pause frequently when you are conveying information. This gives a better chance for information to "sink in", and it also provides opportunities for the child to formulate their next "turn" in the conversation. Children need pauses and "space" to think up what they want to say.

    Link to general language development.

  2. #2


    Thanks, Laura. Those are some great tips! It is hard not to worry, but as much info that let's us know we are doing ok is definitely reassuring. Mine have been in a language boom lately. Especially my little Aiden. Which surprises me because usually it is Ava that has been more advanced in speaking and now Aiden seems to be surpassing her a little. They will be 18 months in just a few days. I can't believe it!

  3. #3


    Same thing is happening at my house! Mia seems to be using language more than Megan, and Megan has been first with everything. It is interesting to watch it unfold.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Escondido, CA


    Good info Laura!!! Thank you. Oddly for us Hayden has the speech delay and these boys don't (right now). I think we didn't speak enough to Hayden (it felt like it at the time) but compared to now! We definitely talk alot!!!!!!!

    At night after bath - I change one while Brook reads to other (1:1 time). Then we switch and I take the other to change and he reads the same book. I do something completely different - this little piggy or my fave...we're going on a bear hunt

    Thanks for giving us info on how to stay on top. Sometimes we get so focused on one thing we don't think about something else. SO Many things to remember it seems like.

    Wife: May 19th, 2001
    Mother to:

  5. #5


    Good info, Laura!! I definitely don't address them separetely.. I always say "Come here, boys" or "Eat your food, boys". I guess that would help to say each of their names to get their attention and so they know I am talking to them.

  6. #6


    Thanks so much! There were some great tips in there. I do tend to "lump" them together, I'll have to make a point of addressing them separately. We have the 3 girls (7 and 6 year old twins) then the 3 boys, so we often address the "girls" and the "boys," but not by there actual names.

    Mom to:
    Shaylea 8 years
    Calissa and Breanna 6.5 years
    Travis 3 years
    Miles and Jaxson 4-17-09

  7. #7


    Great info, Laura! I've been worried about this too, as I think we all are! One thing I've been doing this summer is spending 1 day with each kid by themselves. It's been awesome! I have to pay my sitter still for 2 days a week in the summer to keep our spot, so I decided that I would have 2 kids go 3 days a week instead of having them all go 2 days a week. It has been so nice to have some alone time with each of them, and I feel like I finally get that time to talk to just the one twin and do things with just the one instead of always clumping them together. I only wish I could do that all year long!! My summer is up soon, so I'm trying to enjoy it while I can! I feel like the twins have really picked up a lot of words in just the last few weeks. I don't know if the alone time has anything to do with it, but I'll let myself think that!

    And by having this alone time with each of them, I can actually get out of the house and do things by myself with minimal stress! It's been awesome! How I will miss the summer...
    Married to Chris
    Mom to Reese - 5/2/06
    My Boys, born March 23, 2009 at 37w4d No NICU
    Charlie - 7lb 7oz 18.5 in
    Owen - 6lb 6oz 18.5 in

  8. #8


    I also think there are just so many individual differences with language. Since reading all of this I have been paying closer attention to what I'm doing and what the girls are doing. Mia clearly practices language. She's been calling me Nana and I worked on Mama with her. In the car, driving to daycare, she was softly saying mama mama. Clearly practicing.

    Megan just doesnt' say as much as Mia. I talked to my mom about this too. Evidently I was a late talker as well. My younger brother, on the other hand, sang Happy Birthday to himself on his second birthday!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Charlottesville, Virginia


    Thanks for posting this Laura. Although Claire and Leonard have been talking for a while, I do notice that Claire is more verbal.
    It is very important to remember just not in language development that they are 2 separate people not one. I think that is why it aggravates me so when poeple call them "the twins"

  10. #10

    Default Thank you

    Hey guys!!! Goodness I have missed you all! I am finally on vacation and have time to write ( the girls are a sleep) I am so thankful for this post. My girls babble a ton to each other! Ellie talks more than Cate right now but it will be interesting to see it all unfold xoxo

  11. #11


    Thanks for this post. My girls just had their 18 month well check and have been sent for assessment for speech delays with California's early start program.

    Thanks for all the tips!!


    Alyssa, Zachary & Emily

  12. #12


    As a word of support - I want to throw in that our Ped. has been asking about language/talking for what seems like forever now and we always had to say 'not yet.' Our boys will be two next week and in the past 2 weeks we have gone from only saying mama and dada to Gabe making 3 word sentences and using words like lawn mower, telling us the color of things, and informing me when I told him I "couldn't reach" a toy purposely on a high shelf that "daddy reach it".

    I know others have said it - but you still worry (I am a world class worrier!) but it seems ours had NO use for single words or cute baby words like 'baba' or the like. They were soaking it all up and then just one day opened their mouths and started telling us about the big red truck, loud lawn mower, and that they wanted pancakes, milk, and watermelon for breakfast.

    Literally all in a ten day period.


    (Twins 2 yrs 4 mo, Reece 8 weeks)

    Twin Boys born 8/14/08 at 37 weeks
    Gabriel 6 lbs 4 oz
    Grayson 4 lbs 13 oz

    Little Brother Reece! 11/2/10 at 39 weeks and 8 lbs 4 oz

  13. #13


    I'm telling you, check their receptive vocabulary. Do they understand what you're saying? That's the best way to measure language growth. Mia understands complex instructions, Megan doesnt'. Both understand instructions. Mia can point to words and attends to language. Megan is talking and making new sounds, she waves and says hi (in a Norwegian accent ). Remember that all kids will talk! And, the previous post is right, it can happen within 2 weeks!

  14. #14


    We have had a little increase in their language lately and Avery even said a whole sentence!! I was tickling him and said to him "does this tickle, honey?" and he said it back!! So, he was repeating what I said, but it was clear as day!! Im still happy!!

    Cash has said some new words like bobcat, bath, knee, stop, and keys, but still no sentences.

    I really like what Laura said, though, because my boys do understand everything we say, so I guess they really aren't behind. Im thinking the language will just start all of a sudden and by that time they will know every word they could ever need to use!!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Escondido, CA


    Jacob really has a steep learning curve for everything. Spencer does not but he does understand me - most of the time. We have our 18 mo appt Aug 31st. So I guess I will get a better estimate then. I am working on not worrying until 2. Easier said than done.

    Wife: May 19th, 2001
    Mother to:


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