Babies start talking between 12 and 18 months old. Your baby’s first words are usually magical, and you may be anxiously anticipating them if you are a first-time parent.

However, babies start communicating by crying and cooing from birth, and as they grow, the number of words they speak increases with each stage. So, if you have been wondering how many words should a 15-month say or how to know your 2-year-old has the right language skills, read on and learn what you should expect at each developmental stage.

Ways to encourage your child to talk

Long before they can tell you what is on their mind, babies understand what you are saying, and communicating with them helps them learn communication skills. In fact, by the time your baby is around four months, they can understand what you are saying and may even be able to recognize their name.

Therefore, as a parent or guardian, there are certain steps you can take to help your child start their communication journey. These include:

● Singing. Your baby loves the sound of your voice, and singing to them actually helps to strengthen your bond. It also helps them learn rhythm, become familiar with words, and develop their listening skills.

● Talk to your baby. You can talk to your baby about your activities, share your day and even engage them as you change their diaper or clothes. Use single words and short, simple sentences to make it easier for them to learn words.

● Allow your child to respond. Give your child time to respond to what you are saying. This will give them the confidence they are being heard.

● Reading is a great way to increase your child’s vocabulary and develop language skills. It is a fantastic way to help your baby learn emotional cues as well.

● Pay attention. Look at your baby when they are cooing. This helps them know they are seen and heard and encourages them to continue doing it.

● Smile at your baby often. Smiling is good for your child and is a great way to communicate and bond. Babies read emotional cues, and smiling at them helps them feel safe and secure.

● Switch off the TV. Get to spend one-on-one time with your child. In addition, the noise from the TV may prevent your child from listening to you well.

Language Development by Stage

Knowing the number of words your child speaks will help you know if your child is hitting their language development milestones and if there are any interventions you will need to make.

12 months

Before the 12-month mark, your baby is already babbling vowels and consonants.

But by the time your baby is one year old, they will have started making one word sounds like ‘mama’ or ‘dada.’

They will also be making strings of sounds like ma-ma-ma-ma and da-da-da-da. These are not just gibberish as they understand what they are saying. They will also be able to communicate by pointing or looking at something they are talking about.

15 months

At this stage, your child should know at least five words, 3 of which are new. They should already be saying ‘mama’ and ‘dada,’ and the words they say will be something they commonly see. Some of the words could be incomplete, for example, ‘ba’ for ‘ball.’

18 months

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Their vocabulary is increasing, and they should know at least ten words. According to Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, they should also be able to ask for food by name, make simple animal sounds, and use two-word phrases.

Two years old

This is the stage where there is an explosion in your child’s vocabulary. Your child’s vocabulary has increased by 50 words, and repeating the words you say. There are at least 25 words that your child should be able to say.

They should be saying two to three-word sentences, answering easy questions and asking questions, and using plurals.

Three years old

Here, your child should be quite the talker, giving you never-ending stories. At this stage, they should have a vocabulary of over 250 words and should be able to hold a conversation with you, and you should be able to comprehend what they are saying.

Most children should be able to describe the use of an object and ask the ‘who,’ ‘why,’ ‘what,’ and ‘when’ questions. They should also be able to say their name when asked.

Four years old

At this stage, your child’s language skills have grown exponentially, and they should be able to give you a detailed story of what happened during their day. Moreover, they should be able to express complicated feelings, understand difficult questions, and use uncommon past tense verbs like ‘ran’ or ‘read.’

Five years old

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At this age, your child is probably in preschool, and their vocabulary is between 2000 and 2500 words, and they can use sentences with eight words or more. Moreover, they should be able to follow three-step instructions such as ‘pick the plate, take it to the kitchen and wash your hands.

When to talk to your doctor

Before you start worrying yourself to sleepless nights, understand that speech normally varies from child-child. However, concern areas may be:

● If they are not babbling after seven months.

● They do know any words by 18 months.

● Struggles to understand simple verbal requests, follow simple directions, or say their body parts at two years.

If you are worried about your child hitting the language milestones, consult your doctor or pediatrician. If after the check-up they agree there is a need for concern, they will refer you to a local speech therapist.


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