New research shows that nearly one in six children have difficulty in learning to talk.
The figure is as high as one in four for boys, according to the YouGov online survey of parents.
The research also found that only half the children with speech problems actually got any expert help.
Some three-year-olds were unable to say a single word.
England's first "Communication Champion" Jean Gross commissioned the research and told the BBC that there was a high number of kids with problems and they needed to get help early on.
"Our ability to communicate is fundamental and underpins everything else. Learning to talk is one of the most important skills a child can master in the 21st Century," she told the BBC.
"The proportion of children who have difficulty learning to talk and understand speech is high, particularly among boys.
"It is essential that all children get the help they need from skilled professionals as early as possible."
The parents in the survey rated speaking, listening and understanding as the most important skill for their children to have.
Parents said they looked at books with their kids, told them stories and sang songs with them, which are all activities to improve language development.
Most children did not enjoy looking at books until they were over six months old but almost one in five liked this at three months or younger.
Children usually say their first word between 10 and 11 months, according to the research.
However 4% of children had not said their first word by the time they were three years old.
The first word is most likely to be "dada" or "daddy" with "mama" and "mummy" closely behind.
Mums should try not to take this too hard, though - speech experts think this is because "da" is easier for babies to say...
Did your child have speech difficulties? Did you get the help you needed?
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