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Speech and Language Development: 12 to 24 months

(757) 668-7000

Language means using words and sentences to tell needs, wants or ideas. Speech means making the sounds that make words. Learning to talk and communicate is a very important skill that children develop. Parents are usually the first to notice when their child has a problem with speech or language. If you think that your child is having a speech/language problem, contact your child’s doctor. If you have more specific questions about your child’s speech and language, you can call Children’s Speech and Language Center of Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters at 668-7182.

AgeUnderstanding Sounds/Words (Receptive Language)Making Sounds/Words (Expressive Language)What you can do to help language development
12-18 months
  • Follows one-step commands like “no”, “come here”, “sit down”, or “give it to me”.
  • Pays attention to pictures in books.
  • Recognizes his/her name
  • Waves bye and plays pat-a-cake
  • Understands simple questions like “Where is the ball?”
  • Can point to many things when named (ball, shoe, dog)
  • Points to some body parts (Where is your nose, eye, etc?)
  • Can say mama and dada for parents
  • Can say at least 3 other words
  • Imitates new words
  • True words can be mixed with “gibberish/jargon” words
  • Uses some words instead of pointing to let you know what he/she wants
  • Imitates noises (ex: care noise, animal sounds)
  • Read books with simple pictures.
  • Talk about what you are doing.
  • Always say words correctly even if your child does not.  For example, your child may say “wa wa” and you say “Water, that’s right!”
  • Repeat new words.
  • Play games like ball, pat-a-cake, naming body parts.
  • Praise your child for talking by smiles, repeating, and talking back.
18 to 24 months
  • Points to several body parts
  • Understands simple questions and commands and also some 2-step commands like “Go in your room and pick up your shoes.”
  • Listen to stories with pictures
  • Can point to pictures of things when they are named
  • Stays with one activity 6-7 minutes
  • At 18 months, can say 20 words and by 24 months can say at least 50 words
  • Name pictures
  • Put 2 words together (ex. Go bye bye, mama cookie)
  • Says more and more words each week
  • Uses negative phrases like ”no want”
  • Continue above suggestions.
  • Expand your child’s sentences.  When your child says one word, add another; and, when your child says two words, repeat with a third.  For example, if your child says “cookie” you say “Eat cookie” or “Want cookie”.  If your child says “More cookie” you say “Eat more cookie” or “Want more cookie”.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 06/06

(757) 668-7000