Parenting: ‘My toddler has stopped talking’ 

“For a toddler not to be that interested in a baby isn’t in itself a huge worry."
Ellen Kenny
Ellen Kenny

10.10 17 Sep 2023

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Parenting: ‘My toddler has sto...

Parenting: ‘My toddler has stopped talking’ 

Ellen Kenny
Ellen Kenny

10.10 17 Sep 2023

Share this article

On this week’s ‘Parenting’ segment, one mother has a lot of concerns about her toddler’s development suddenly halting. 

“We are parents to a 2-and-a-half-year-old girl and a 3-month-old girl,” she told Moncrieff.  


“Since our youngest arrival our eldest daughter has not shown any interest whatsoever in her sister, until this week when she began pinching her face. 

“She also has lashed out as if to grab the face of both my husband and I.” 

The mother said her toddler has also stopped talking and started babbling like a baby, while she used to have an “extensive vocabulary” and has less interest in people. 

“She has started only pooing when in her cot, putting her hands into it and crying when we take her up to change her,” she said. 

“We have endeavoured to be responsive, caring, loving parents to our 2-and-a-half-year-old.” 

'A breadcrumb trail'

Child psychotherapist Joanna Fortune said each problem by itself could be considered normal – but it’s more concerning when all the problems are combined. 

“It’s like a breadcrumb trail,” she said. 

“There is some development regression, you’re seeing an increase in certain behaviours, you're seeing a decrease in some verbal language. 

“You’re slap-bang in between your development check windows of the two-year-old one and the three-year-old one.” 

Joanna recommended going to a public health nurse “without delay” and getting a development check for the toddler. 

“You could also ask for a referral to the early-years team who will just take a more multidisciplinary holistic approach at her development,” she said. 

“And it’s not like you can call today and get it tomorrow, so get that going.” 

Toddler girl playing with silicone pop-it toy. Image: Oleksandra Troian / Alamy Stock Photo

While waiting for a developmental check, Joanna said the parents should keep being responsive to their daughter’s sensory issues. 

“The pinching is particularly interesting,” she said. 

“I would get her fidget toys, I would get her things she can squish – not her cheeks, not other babies. 

“She might be looking for something that might be quite regulating for her to squeeze.” 

Joanna also recommended music, dancing and singing. 

“They're going to help trigger the parts of her brain associated with emotional regulation to quite literally to get back into sync,” she said. 

Once these regulatory systems are in place, the toddler should also have few problems with her new baby sister. 

“For a toddler not to be that interested in a baby isn’t in itself a huge worry,” she said. 

“I know babies are cool to us parents, but they’re not that interesting to toddlers.” 

You can listen back here:

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Babies Development Emotional Regulation Joanna Fortune Parenting Stimulation Toddlers

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