A child’s speech development is a very common worry for parents. How long should it be before that cute baby babble turns into words? Should you worry if a child isn’t speaking sentences by age 2? There are a few basic speech milestones for toddlers. However, it is also important to keep in mind that these are only guidelines and every child develops differently. Don’t be alarmed if your child isn’t following these to the letter.
This is a very busy age for toddler language development, as they are really starting to play with and explore words at this age. They will start to develop more words and associate words with objects. By the end of 12 months, children are usually saying simple words, such as “mama” and “dada.” You may notice their turning to look for objects when they hear a word, even if they can’t actually say the word yet. By the end of 18 months, your child may know as many as 20 words and begin to understand simple instructions.
By Age 2
By the time children are age 2, they can usually say about 50 to 100 words and have an even bigger vocabulary in terms of understanding. This is the age at which children typically start to ask for things, such as a favorite food or toy. They will start to say simple two- or three-word sentences, such as “Go outside” or “Want down now.” Toddlers will start to recognize things that belong to them at this age, and they won’t be shy about telling the world, “Mine!”
By Age 3
By age 3, children will continue expanding on their vocabulary and may know as many as 1,000 words. They may not use all of these words, but they will understand them. They will expand their sentence length and may start putting related sentences together, such as “Hungry now. Want crackers.” Children tend to be very talkative at this age. They will use pronouns more often and start to remember people’s names. They will point to and identify objects.
When to Be Concerned
Check your child’s understanding, as understanding is a big part of speech development. For example, if you ask “Where is the ball?” and your child goes and finds a ball, his understanding is good. It may just take a little longer for the words to come out. If your child is consistently not meeting these milestones, consult your pediatrician. If you are teaching your child sign language and she will sign but not speak, mention this to your pediatrician, as it could be an indicator of other conditions. Some children are just late bloomers. If your doctor cannot identify any health issues, yet your child is still not meeting his milestones, don’t fret! He will get there in time.