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Toddler Language Development

Susie McGee
toddler language

Are you keeping track of toddler language development? As your baby moves towards toddlerhood, he'll learn new skills at a sometimes rapid pace. His body and mind are growing and changing, and he is becoming even more aware of the world around him. You may notice that your toddler watches your lips as you speak or that he tries to mimic your actions and your words.

As he begins to expand his vocabulary, you may become concerned that he isn't progressing as much as he should be. Before you become too alarmed, however, pay attention to the following points. If you still have concerns, of course you should certainly contact your pediatrician.

Points to Remember with Language Development

Whether this is your first baby or your fourth, you need to realize that no two children develop at exactly the same rate.

  1. The development of language varies so greatly, that it really isn't wise to begin comparing your toddler to another toddler.
  2. Your child's speech may develop in spurts instead of continuously.
  3. Girls' speech typically develop earlier than boys' speech.
  4. Overall, toddlers appear to understand much more than they can actually verbalize. You'll notice that your child understands when you tell her to do something, even though she may not respond to you in words.

Stages of Language Development in Toddlers

Before you review the following stages, keep in mind that these ages are general, and your child may not follow them exactly.

Twelve Months

For several months now your baby has probably done quite a bit of babbling. You may have even understood a word or two. He may have been saying "mama" and "dada" for several weeks, also. He is also beginning to understand a few simple commands.

Fifteen Months

At fifteen months, many babies already have a five to ten word vocabulary. Your baby may chatter incessantly, and if you listen closely, you may be able to recognize a few real words in that gibberish.

Eighteen Months

Your toddler is understanding much more of what you say to her. Her vocabulary is also expanding, and she may know several nouns, such as "ball", "juice", "bye-bye", "cat", etc. You may even notice that she can put together a couple of words, although she may run them together as one word.

Twenty-four Months

By the time your toddler reaches the age of two, he will probably be able to say several two and three word sentences. He will also understand quite a bit of what you tell him.

Thirty-six Months

By the time your toddler reaches her third birthday, she'll be talking up a storm. She'll have a large vocabulary, which she'll continue to add to everyday. Her sentences will be three and four words long, and she'll understand most of what you tell her.

Helping Your Child

There are several steps you can take to help in your toddler's language development.

  1. Read! Read! Read! This is the single most important activity that you can do with your toddler on a daily basis! As you read, point to different objects, and say the name of that object out loud. Ask your toddler to point to objects that you name. Make reading fun and interesting for your child, and do this every day!
  2. Talk about simple activities that you and/or your child is doing, and do this using simple language.
  3. Introduce new words to your child everyday. These may be the names of flowers, a new animal in a book, or a new food you've placed before her.
  4. Try not to finish your child's sentences. Instead, give him time to search for the right word.
  5. Talk to your child everyday, and look at him while you are speaking or listening. Let him know that what he says is important to you.

Cause for Concern

If your child doesn't look at you when you call his name or he doesn't respond to you when he is turned away from your voice, contact your pediatrician. If your toddler appears to have any type of developmental or speech problem, contact your pediatrician. Finally, if you have any doubts, worries, or concerns, call your pediatrician.

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Toddler Language Development