Language Development Between 12 and 24 Months of Age
Between 12 and 24 months of age, changes in the brain help your
toddler learn and understand language. Most toddlers understand many more words
than they are able to speak. For example, they are often able to point to their
nose or eyes or other body parts when asked, even though they may not say the
words for them.
The rate at which children learn to talk varies widely, although in
general you can expect your child to:
Say a few words with one or two syllables, such
as "ball" and "doggie," by 12 months of age. One-year-olds also usually can say
"mama" and "dada." They recognize the names of other family members and their
favorite toys. And they understand simple statements such as "all gone" and "give
Use a mix of made-up words and understandable words between 12
months and 18 months of age. This is sometimes called jargon.
Speak at least 50 words by 24 months of age. Children typically
gradually add words for important objects, people, or places, such as "bottle"
Start combining two or more words, such as "more peas" or "doggie
run," between 18 and 24 months of age. At this stage, toddlers may also be able
to understand two-step commands, such as "Bring me your shoes and sit down by
Language development milestones
are the most variable of all skills. Toddlers who are slower than others in reaching these milestones may
still be in the range of normal development. It is important to
identify and monitor these patterns but not to become too concerned. If your
child communicates effectively through emotional expression, gestures, and
other means, usually he or she will develop speech normally. But if your
child seems to lose language skills that previously were mastered, it is a good idea
to have him or her checked by a doctor.
Also, keep in mind that newfound language skills may make it seem as
though your toddler understands more than he or she really does. Although
toddlers sometimes express words that seem to convey their grasp of an issue,
they do not necessarily fully understand. For example, a child may say "go
bye-bye" as you leave but may not fully understand what is happening until you
are gone. When parents understand this gap between speech and comprehension,
they can help the children manage their feelings.
For more information, see the topic Speech and Language
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics Specialist Medical ReviewerLouis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.