This post is all about how your 2-year-old should be communicating. Keep in mind that these milestones are based on research about typically-developing children but this information is not meant to diagnose a speech-language delay or disorder. There is a wide range of what is considered “normal” in 2-year-old speech and even if your child is slightly delayed in a few of these areas, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has a speech or language delay. Please contact a speech-language pathologist for a screening if you are concerned about your child’s speech and language skills. All norms are taken from the Liguisystems Guide to Communication Milestones which sites the specific resources and research articles used to find each milestone.
Speech Sound Development:
By 2-years of age, a stranger should be able to understand your child’s speech about 50% of the time. Your child should be using a variety of vowels and consonants but it isn’t a problem if he/she can’t produce them all yet.
- Produces sentences that are an average of 2-words long. That means, some utterances will be 1-word, some 2-words, and some 3-words long
- Uses intonation to ask yes/no questions
- Uses some “wh-” questions, like “what?”, “what that?”, or “where mommy?”
Social/Pragmatic Language Use:
- Follows simple directions, especially with a gestural cue
- Waves bye-bye
- Indicates wet pants
- Repeats actions that made someone laugh
- Plays next to other children
- Pairs gestures with words to get wants and needs met
- Imitates adult behaviors in play
- Refers to self by name
- Protests by saying “no”
- Does “pretend play”, such as talking on a phone or pretending to eat play food
- Talks to self during play
- Uses social words like “hi”, “bye”, “thanks”, “please”
- Recognizes certain books by their covers
- Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes
- Turns pages
- Points to and labels pictures by herself
- Pretends to read books
- Follows simple spatial directions, such as “in” and “on” (put it in the barn, put it on the barn)
- Can follow the direction “give me another one”
- Uses simple directional terms, such as “up” and “down”
If you had been counting all of the words your child can say, your 2-year old should have about 200-300 words in his vocabulary. Now, I don’t recommend you go count all of them, but this should give you a rough estimate to go by.
- Looks in the appropriate place when asked a simple question like “where’s daddy?”
- Chooses an object purposefully when asked about a choice of two, such as “do you want milk or juice?”
2-Year-Old Speech: Red Flags
If your child shows these signs, please talk to your child’s pediatrician or speech-language pathologist.
- Has a vocabulary of fewer than 50 words
- Doesn’t have much interest in social interactions
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