Should my 2-Year-Old Be Talking?

By: Jennifer Tripoli M.S., CCC-SLP  

I have heard this from countless parents during initial evaluations.  “But he/she is only a baby! He/she should be talking?!” “The neighbor child didn’t talk until he was 3 and he turned out OK.” “I just assumed he/she would catch up.” The answer is YES! Your 2 year old should be talking. Did you know most typically developing children begin using words at around 12 months of age and by the time the child is 2 years of age they are beginning to combine words? Now, like any area of child development there is an age range for when skills begin to emerge. For instance some children may need a few extra months to “catch up” or develop these skills.

I am finding at our Centers that pediatricians are referring young toddlers earlier for speech evaluations due to limited expressive language skills and this is GREAT! There has been a vast amount of research published on Early Intervention and an increased public awareness regarding Early Intervention. “The earlier the better” thought is likely influencing these referrals.

I have to say I am thrilled about this new trend as I get to work with these kids sooner rather than later. It is a much better situation to work with a child who is delayed at 15-18 months versus 24 months or later. Children who are 2 years and older and not talking, or talking very little, are extremely frustrated with their inability to communicate. Many times these children are experiencing pretty severe tantrums and some are even socially withdrawn from other children due to their lack of communication. Yes, some children do fine with the “wait and see” approach. They eventually develop age appropriate speech and language skills, but for some children this is NOT enough. These children will fall further and further behind as we “wait and see” what happens.Voice Box Photo

This blog is by no means supposed to serve as an evaluation tool to determine if your child requires speech therapy, but instead help parents understand if their child is in on target with speech and language skills for their age. If you have any doubts in your child’s development, it is best to consult with your pediatrician. A full speech and language evaluation performed by a pediatric Speech and Language Pathologist would determine if your child is a candidate for speech and language therapy.

Here are some general speech and language guidelines for children 1-2 years of age:

12 months

  • Uses gestures to communicate such as showing, giving, pointing, reaching for preferred item and waving
  • Babbles during play with a variety of different consonant and vowel sounds
  • Plays communicative games such as Peek-a-boo or other back and forth games
  • Begins to use single words though sounds may not be clear
  • Learns new words quickly
  • Attempts to imitate new words
  • Understands common items such as cup, shoe, etc.
  • Understands basic requests related to routine such as “come on” or “give me”

18 months

  • Average expressive vocabulary at 18 months is between 50-100 words
  • Begins to use early 2 word combinations such as “more juice”, “daddy shoe”, etc.
  • Begins to understand 2 step commands with and without gestures
  • Points to pictures when named in books27_Nevean
  • Identifies a few body parts

24 months

  • Uses 2 word combinations “more cookie”, “bye mommy”, “daddy go”, etc.
  • May still be using some single words, though most language is expressed with 2 word utterances
  • Identifies several body parts
  • Begins to ask questions “Where’s mommy?”
  • Unfamiliar listeners understand your child about 50% of the time

For more information regarding typical speech and language development visit the American Speech Language and Hearing Association’s website here.

To learn more about speech language therapy services at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, click here.

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