Can you believe your little one is a year and a half old!? His second birthday will be right around the corner…have you started planning the party yet??? He is walking all over and getting into everything and should have at least several words he is using consistently now and by the end of this 6 month period he should be putting words together! Let’s see what else is in store for him…
Development from 18-24 Months
As I mentioned in my last segment in this series, the time period from 12-24 months has the largest span of “normal” in terms of speech and language development. Some 12 month olds have many words while others will not utter the first one for a couple more months. Some 18 month olds are putting 2 and 3 words together while others only have 10 words total. This is all normal…but can definitely make it harder to know if your child is on track.
Cognitively and motorically, your little guy is learning new things everyday. He is learning to walk up and down stairs, catching and throwing a ball, and might be starting to scribble little circles. He may (or may not) be interested in putting on and taking off his shoes and socks (my son at 21 months is OBSESSED with socks and shoes right now!) He may also start learning how to jump around 21 months or so and may start to get air! He is starting to know where things belong in your home and where to find them when he wants them. He may start to use toys in different ways and start to experiment with them…which means you better make sure you are keeping your eye on him! This is the time that you might find the entire roll of toilet paper in the bowl or find his trains in some really odd places. Remember how I said he will be using things in new and different ways? Your child’s problem solving skills are developing rapidly and he is starting to realize that he can use a chair or a table as a stool. Say he sees a cookie on the counter and he wants it. He is learning that he can simply pull one of your nesting tables over to the kitchen, climb on top and get that cookie! Your child isn’t being naughty, he is problem solving and this is such an important skill!
Slowly over this time period he should be more and more interested in books and should be able to sit for longer and longer periods of time to listen to the stories. He should be starting to be more of an active participant in story time by turning the pages and pointing to objects when named. He may start to point out objects in the pictures and name them as well. In fact, towards the end of this period you may find him sitting alone looking through books! I remember by daughter was so obsessed with books during this time that she actually slept with them. Which is why the theme of her second birthday party was Bookworm.
(Ellie stopping to “read” all the books she got at her Bookworm Party)
In social and play skill news, your little guy might be starting to “test” his caregivers. You tell him no, and he does it anyway! You try to redirect his climbing behavior but he turns around and climbs something else. Oh yes…it is getting exciting (Remember those problem solving skills that are developing? He wants to use them all.the.time.) He might have attachments to his favorite toys and should enjoy playing near (not really “with”) other children and when playing by himself, you may hear him talking to himself or narrating his play. He may start to enjoy hugging other people around this time as well and should enjoy interacting with children and adults even if he has a shy personality.
Receptively (what he can understand) he should be able to follow simple directives and answer simple questions. When you ask him “Where’s daddy?” he should start to look around for daddy and maybe even find him! He should be able to follow directives like “Get your shoes” or “Kick the ball” and even “Put your dish in the sink” (Yes, my 21 month old knows how to put his dish in the sink!) As I mentioned earlier, he also should be able to point to common objects in pictures when named like balls, doggies, cookies, juice, and other things he may be interested in. My son at 21 months can point out a baseball vs. a football because this is something he is interested in, but I am not sure my daughter did the same at this age.
Expressively, around 18 months of age, your child should have a bare minimum of 8-10 spoken words but could have an upwards of 50 or more. However this is an average. Remember last time I mentioned that my own son at 19 months barely had 8 words but by 21 months he is well over the 50 word mark. During this time frame, your child should be learning new words daily. It is common, however, for your child to seem to learn 20 new words one day and yet not say another “new” word for a few days. Totally normal. It is also normal for a child to seem to “lose” words. For example, my son’s first word was “bye bye” at 9.5 months yet months later he stopped saying it. He was gaining new words and communicating well so I wasn’t worried. However, It is not normal for a child to talk and then stop talking or basically lose all his words. This is a red flag that something might be going on and you will want to bring this up to your pediatrician right away of your child was talking and then stops using words to communicate.
The biggest milestone that happens during this time regarding communication is the transition from the use of single words to the use of two word combinations! This is the beginning of your child using grammar and the beginning of your child using sentences! It seems like just yesterday he was a sweet newborn sleeping in your arms and now he is starting to put two words together to talk about his world.
At 21 months Ev is starting to put two words together
So how does this happen? We don’t really know, but sometime between 18 months and 2 years of age, usually once they have a good 50+ words in their expressive vocabulary, your child tends to enter the time that we refer to as the language explosion. He will begin to put two words together to communicate like “more cookie” or “big truck” and it will seem like he is learning new words by the hour. He also should be asking simple questions either with rising intonation. For example, “Daddy??” or “Where Daddy?” By the time your child hits his second birthday he should have between 100-200+ words and should be starting to combine 2 words. It is such an exciting time!
Your child may be communicating more and more each day but his speech may still be hard to understand. This is ok! It takes years for little ones to learn how to say all the speech sounds in his/her language so at first his words can be difficult to understand, though as a parent you typically understand more than strangers can. However he should be using many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words. Sounds he should be using around this time are p, m, h, n, w, b, t, d but he may also be using k, g, f, v ,s and z. As he learns to talk, he will not be saying all the speech sounds correctly and he will probably leave some sounds out of some words, and this is OK. You can read a bit more about speech development HERE.
So what does the next year hold in terms of speech and language development? Check back next week as we discuss your child’s speech and language development 2-3 years!
American Speech-Language Hearing Association Website (2011). How does your child hear and talk? Birth to one year. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/01.htm (9-1-2012)
Lanza, J.R. & Flahive, L.K. (2008). LinguiSystems guide to communication milestones: 2009 Edition. East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.linguisystems.com/pdf/Milestonesguide.pdf (9-1-2012)
McLaughlin, S. (1998). Introduction to language development. San Diego, CA: Singular Publishing Group, INC.