Speech and language development milestones relate to receptive
language (the ability to understand words and sounds) and expressive language
(the ability to use speech and gestures to communicate meaning).
Most 1-year-olds begin to understand the meanings of words. Their
receptive language grows from understanding names of people and objects, to
being able to follow simple requests sometime between ages 1 and 2. Expressive
language advances from primarily using gestures and babbling at age 1, to using
words, simple phrases, and some early sentence structures between ages 2 and 3.
Speech and language milestones
1-year-olds (12 months to 24 months):
Learn that words have
Usually recognize the names of family members and familiar
Understand simple statements such as “all gone” and “give
Between 1 and 2 years, understand simple requests such as
“give daddy the ball.”
By 18 months, know the names of people, body
parts, and objects.
Use gestures, such as
Babble less than babies do.
Often make one-
or two-syllable sounds that stand for items they want, such as “baba” for
“bottle,” and point to things they want.
Between 12 months and 18
months of age, may use their own language, sometimes called jargon, that is a
mix of made-up words and understandable words.
Between 1 and 2
years, usually can say between 20 and 50 words that are intelligible to family
2-year-olds (24 months to 36 months):
Know the name of at least seven body
Increase their understanding of object
Follow simple requests (such as “put the book on the
When asked, point to a picture of something named (such as “Where is the cow?” or “Show me the airplane.”)
Continue to learn and use
Sometimes talk a lot, although some are
If quiet, develop a communication system using gestures and
Usually can name some body parts (such as arms
and legs), favorite toys, and familiar objects (such as cats and
Use pronouns like “me” and “you,” but they often get them
Can make phrases, such as “no bottle” or “want
By age 3, usually can say between 150 to 200 words.
Strangers can understand them about 75% of the time.footnote 1