During the toddler years, speech becomes a focus and sometimes an area of concern for some parents. There are some key speech milestones your child should be reaching and there is a point when you should consider getting your toddler’s speech assessed. The key to conquering any difficulties is early detection and early action so don’t hesitate to get help if you are concerned. Your local public health centre will be able to help you but they will probably have a waiting list for speech assessment. If that wait is too long, they will be able to recommend some private speech therapists who will be able to help.
By 12 to 15 Months
Your toddler should now have
- speech sounds in their babbling (like p, b, m, d, or n)
- imitate sounds and words modeled by family members,
- say one or more words (not including "mama" and "dada") spontaneously.
- should be able to understand and follow simple one-step directions ("Please give me the toy," etc).
From 18 to 24 Months
- most toddlers are saying about 20 words by 18 months and 50 or more words by the time they turn 2.
- By age 2, kids are starting to combine two words to make simple sentences, such as "baby crying".
- A 2-year-old should also be able to identify common objects , common pictured objects, indicate body parts on self when labeled, and follow two-step commands (such as "Please pick up the toy and give it to me").
From 2 to 3 Years
- Your toddler's vocabulary should increase (to too many words to count) and he or she should routinely combine three or more words into sentences.
- Comprehension also should increase — by 3 years of age, a child should begin to understand beside, as apposed to under etc.
- Your child also should begin to identify colors and comprehend big versus little, for example.
Warning signs of possible speech difficulties
Between 12 & 24 months:
- An infant who isn't responding to sound or who isn't vocalizing
- isn't using gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye by 12 months
- prefers gestures over vocalizations to communicate by 18 months
- has trouble imitating sounds by 18 months
- has difficulty understanding simple verbal requests
Over 2 years old:
- can only imitate speech or actions and doesn't produce words or phrases spontaneously
- says only certain sounds or words repeatedly and can't use language to communicate more than his or her immediate needs
- can't follow simple directions
- has an unusual tone of voice (such as raspy or nasal sounding)
- is difficult to understand for their age.
- Parents and regular caregivers should understand about half of a child's speech at 2 years and about three quarters at 3 years. By 4 years old, a child should be mostly understood, even by people who don't know the child.