Communication development in twins/multiple births.

Communication development in twins/multiple births.

Being the parent of twins or multiples is both joyful and demanding. Parents of twins/multiples often ask- will my children be slower to talk than their peers?

Just like singletons, twins and multiples may have speech and language difficulties, although there are a few specific reasons why twins may have a delayed pattern of speech and language development.

These issues include weight at birth, prematurity, and also factors within the family such as the time parents have to spend with their twins/multiples individually. 

Twins can show signs of delayed speech and language development such as fewer words, sentences and speech sounds than their peers.


This may affect one or both twins.  Generally speaking, children speak their first words between one year and 18 months. A child is considered a “late talker” if he/she is not putting two words together by age two; with a vocabulary of about fifty words. 


What can I do to support my twins/multiples' language and communication ?

If you notice that twins/multiples have few words by the time they are 18 to 20 months, it is a good precaution to take your children to see a Speech and Language Therapist. The Speech and Language Therapist will assess your children’s speech and language development to see how easily they can understand language spoken to them and how they are communicating and interacting socially with words and with gestures. The Speech and Language Therapist will also advise you on how to encourage your children's speech, language and communication development and monitor their progress at regular intervals if appropriate. The following are some tips especially for parents of twins and multiples.

Whether together or individually,  make sure to engage often with each child in a turn taking conversational style.

See Understanding Speech and Language Development

Listening and understanding is an important part of communicating.  Make. a point sometimes to call each child's name and wait for them to look at you before you speak. Use an animated intonation pattern and use lots of gesture to add meaning to what you say. 

Create opportunities to talk to one child at a time.

  • When you go for a family walk around the park, get one caregiver and twin to walk in one direction and the other caregiver and twin to walk in the opposite direction or have one parent and a twin leave earlier than the rest of the family.
  • Try to bath the children at least once a week separately.
  • You may think of other opportunities that suit you for dividing your time between the children, so that they have some special interactive time alone with you.

  • Twins and multiples have a great opportunity to develop social interaction skills at home. Encourage the children to interact with each other by modelling simple conversational turns such as..
    • Wondering aloud what each child's preferences are; what they would like to play with/ wear/ eat.. "I wonder what xxx would like to play with... let's ask him...
    • Taking turns to play a game and help each other, show empathy and kindness.... " Oh X can't find his tractor,  i think he might be a little bit sad...let's help him look for it"
  • Have story time together, reading a story book together  is a wonderful opportunity to support all your children's language and listening skills. See for great tips on story telling.

Just like any other child, twins may have temporary muffled hearing due to congestion of the middle ear.  Contact your Public Health Nurse or Family doctor if you are concerned.