Language development spans a wider range than you might think. Children develop in different ways and at different rates. Remember that your toddler may be working on developing several skills all at once—puzzles, running, jumping, climbing—and language can appear take a backseat at times.
A lot will start to happen in the coming months.
by around age two, here’s how your toddler may start to talk. They may:
Go from speaking a handful of words to many
Between 15 and 18 months, toddlers start to use an average of about 10 to 15 words. Somewhere between 24 and 30 months, your toddler’s language will likely begin to explode and they may have upwards of 50 words.
Understand and follow two-part directions
“Give me the ball and your shoe” or “touch your nose and touch your belly.” Your toddler will likely be able to do this between 18 and 24 months.
Begin to use two-word phrases like “more water”
Between about 20 and 24 months, your toddler may start to put two words together to form phrases such as “no sleep.” Beginning somewhere around 24 to 30 months, they may start to string three words together.
Imitate environmental sounds
By around 21 months, your toddler may start imitating the sounds of the world around them while they play, like animals, trucks, machines, and anything that makes noise.
Be more intelligible to you (about 65% of the time)
You may see a dramatic uptick in how much of your toddler’s language you understand as your toddler approaches two years (even if the casual observer may have little to no idea).
This is the (mostly) nonsensical self-talk your toddler does, when it sounds like they’re imitating speech (they are 🙂). Volume, tone, inflection—they’re practicing what it sounds like to have a real conversation.
Start to use their first name
Try to encourage them to use their own name by saying “who is my helper? Caroline’s my wonderful helper!” More about pronouns here. Being able to use their own name will come sometime between 18 and 24 months—pronouns will come later.
Sing a few words from a familiar song
Between 18 and 23 months, you may hear your toddler sing a couple of recognizable words from a song they know and repeat those same words over and over again in an off-key but musical way. Later—sometime between 23 and 27 months—your toddler may begin singing whole phrases of songs.
A reminder: toddlers who may appear not to speak much (or intelligibly) are constantly processing the language-rich environment they’re steeped in. So keep on speaking, narrating, reading, conversing, and singing. It all helps!
Note: If you do suspect a language delay, checking in with your pediatrician is always a good idea.