1 – 2 years language development

Language development in toddlerhood is like all other areas of development at this age – fast! Once he’s mastered a couple of words, your toddler will quickly begin to expand his vocabulary. And while the number of words he can use rapidly increases, he may begin to get frustrated as he struggles to be understood or to find the exact words he needs to communicate in the way he wants. Encourage your toddler to try new words by giving him lots of information in your conversations with him, and try to repeat what he has said to you so that he can self-correct his pronunciation.

Developmental milestones include:

At 15 months:

  • he has a spoken vocabulary of approx. 10 words

At 18 months:

  • he will ‘talk’ to himself and others as though he’s holding a conversation
  • he can follow a simple one-step instruction
  • he is developing a vocabulary that will contain appox. 50 words by the time he is two years

By two years:

  • he can use words to communicate most of his needs
  • he can construct longer sentences that use more precise language
  • he may stutter when he’s excited and rushing to communicate
  • he can follow a more complicated two-step instruction
  • he will know and be able to sing familiar songs and nursery rhymes
  • he is starting to use words that express emotions

What can I do to encourage his language development?

  • Talk to him! The only way for him to learn to communicate effectively is if you communicate with him.
  • Point out and name familiar objects and encourage him to copy your pronunciation
  • Don’t correct every word he says – this is an exciting time of learning and he may become discouraged if you are always ‘teaching’ him.
  • Read books with him. Point to the illustrations and name objects. You can also ask him questions about the story – you’ll have to give him the answer but he’ll quickly learn what you are asking him.

Signs that suggest a developmental delay in a 1-2 year old:

  • he doesn’t babble often
  • he isn’t attempting to communicate using meaningful words
  • he doesn’t listen when you talk to him
  • he plays mainly silently
  • there is little or no response when you talk to him
  • Isn’t able to point to objects when they’re named
  • Uses signs, grunts or gestures only when he wants something

All children are different and develop at different rates, so don’t be overly concerned if your toddler is acquiring new skills at a different rate to those around him. But if you are worried about his development or it seems to have stalled or be going backwards, talk to a health professional.

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This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot New Zealand. Sources include Government’s Parenting and Child Health, Raising Children Network and Better Health Channel


This article was created for Kidspot – New Zealand’s parenting resource for toddlers.

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