Toddler Speech Milestones

When my daughter was getting past a year old, she wasn’t saying words yet.  As new parents, we weren’t sure if that was normal of if she should be sayings any words yet.  She was certainly trying to make various sounds, but we didn’t hear that first “dada” or “mama” yet.

As time went by we started to get more concerned and started researching where she should be at.  And I’m glad we did as we found that was was actually behind where a toddler her age ought to have been at.

Looking back on it, I do wish for two things.

One, that toddler speech milestones were taught to new parents and there were reminders to evaluate and certain points.

And two, I wish with the knowledge we acted sooner.  In the end everything worked out.  But it only worked out because we did get help and her speech eventually caught up with intervention.  But had we acted sooner, we may have saved a lot of stress.


Typical Toddler Speech Milestones

Below I’ve laid out typical toddler speech development.  It’s important to note that every toddler is different.  They will pick up language in stages and may reach them at different timelines.

It’s ok if your toddler doesn’t match these exactly as they are general guidelines.  However, if there is a large gap, then you should take action.  That includes things like a trip to their doctor, visit with a Speech Language Pathologist, or even learning how to help them speak at home.

Note that you are a bilingual home, you can add all words in both languages to get to a total.


12 months

At one year old, the typical toddler has 1-2 words in their vocabulary.  To count, it means they use the word meaningfully as intended.  Accidental or random sounds they say that “happen” to be a word don’t count.  It is also possible they are at zero words.  If so, you want to monitor more closely and true to use speech language techniques to help them develop their language.


18 months

As they get older and approach 18 months old, you should see your toddler try to practice speaking more often.  They will try to imitate you and they’ll be babbling like they are taking, but it will not be real words.  That’s ok.  They are learning to use their mouth to pronounce different sounds at this stage and it’s what they need to do.

It’s also typical that along with attempts at words that they will use gestures to communicate what they want to express.

At times they may struggle to get their meaning across to  you.  This will frustrate you, but that’s fine.  This is part of their development process and shows that they are working hard to improve.

At 18 months, they will typically be able to say 10-15 words.


24 months

As they approach their 2nd birthday, your toddler should be able to follow simple commands and understand questions.  Things like “take this to cup to daddy” and “where is your teddy bear?” should be clear to them.

They will be adding a few more to several words each month.  The words will typically be ones they use in their daily lives and hear from you often, like “cup” and “dog” and “walk”.

They may also start putting two words together and say simple things like “my milk” or “daddy up”.

At 2 years, they will typically say 50 words in their vocabulary.


30 months

As they move past their 2nd birthday, the sentence structures will become longer.  More 2-, 3-, and 4-word sentences will appear.

Your toddler will also now word on their sound levels (unfortunately for us, but necessary for them).  This means they may yell when or whisper and in appropriate times.

Their use of pronouns will also start to improve as they understand “I”, “you”, and “me” and start to use them.

At 30 months you can expect around 200 words.

36 months

At 3 years old, your toddler’s speech will be noticeable better.  They can start carrying on a conversation with you (that was amazing when I first started conversing with my daughter).  They may tend to use more formal language with their parents and other adults and simpler language with other kids.

Expect that they are around 500 words by age 3.

At the point, other adults should be able to understand almost most of their speech.


Need some help?

If you believe you need some lessons from a Speech Language Pathologist but don’t think you can afford it or if you’re waiting on a REALLY LONG WAIT LIST, then you can use my Talk Now Program.

You will have access to a proven system that will your toddler’s speech take off, but with no wait list.  Click here now to learn more.