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Language Development:
12-2 Years Old

  • By now, children say their first words with meaning

  • When the child says ‘Dada’, they are calling for dad

  • There's an explosion of vocabulary

  • Uses words to talk to you

  • They enjoy saying the same word over and over or have 'favorite words' 

  • They use a lot of made-up words 

  • The child repeats after you

  • They understand what you tell them

  • They can understand more than what they can say

  • They can follow simple directives like "sit down", "come here", "look outside", etc. 

  • First they’ll understand and say mostly nouns and social words, then adjectives come next, then verbs, adverbs and prepositions. 

  • The child uses a combination of real words, made-up words, sounds and gestures to communicate

  • Around 15 months, the child will point to things and ask for the name

  • Around 18 months, the child refers to themselves by their name

  • They don't start using 'I' until closer to 2 years old

  • Stringing two words together  ‘mummy car’ or ‘me go’, combinations being mainly a noun + verb (dog eat, car go)

  • Use only a few descriptive words at this age – for example, ‘big’ or ‘red’

By 18 Months:

  • The child should know and use at least 20 words minimum and up to 100 words, including different types of words:

    • nouns (“baby”, “cookie”)

    • verbs (“eat”, “go”)

    • prepositions (“up”, “down”)

    • adjectives (“hot”, “sleepy”)

    • social words (“hi”, “bye”)

    • they have new words everyday 


  • By now the child can use a range of sounds to make words

  • It's normal for toddlers not to pronounce all the sounds or words correctly

  • Children sometimes use the wrong sound, replacing it by another, like saying 'tat' instead of 'cat'

  • Some children leave out the end sounds ('ca', instead of 'car')

  • By the time they are 2 years old, a stranger should be able to understand about half of your child's words


  • Learning how to have a conversation is part of the language development

  • Children will often start conversation by drawing attention to something (pointing or asking 'what is that?')

  • Children can answer simple questions

  • Children can understand the difference in your tone (a question, a statement)

  • Children know that you are showing them something, if you point or say 'Look!' 

  • Children start using combination of words, gestures, sounds and tones to make it easier to be understood​

When to Seek Assistance: 

  • The child is not interested in sounds

  • The child does not respond to their name or noises

  • The child is not trying to communicate with babbling, words or gestures

  • Has stopped using a language skill they once had​

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