Your Child’s Speech & Language: 12-18 Months

Well you have survived the first year and hopefully the big first birthday party ;) Your little one is crawling or walking around and getting into E V E R Y T H I N G and life is suddenly getting busy! If you haven’t finished yet, be sure to child proof everything. Your child’s curiosity could get her into trouble! Not only are those gross motor skills developing at rapid speed these days but so is her speech and language. In fact, at 12 months she may have said her first real word. But what is a real word? If you didn’t catch last week’s post on first words, go check it out and then come back for speech and language development from 12 to 18 months!

Development from 12-15 Months

Cognitively, your little one is beginning to use common objects appropriately. For example, she is trying to learn how to use a spoon, put keys in the door, and puts your phone to her ear. She is imitating new motor movements she sees you do (like stomping your feet) and she is starting to be able to remember that she was playing with her favorite bear in the living room and will go back there to look for it. She may be starting to be interested in stacking objects like blocks and may be able to make a 3-4 block tower by the end of this time!

Socially and communicatively, your little one is busy! She is expressing herself with a combination of verbalizations (words, jargon, babble) and gestures. She is able to follow some simple directives with gestures as well. For example, if you tell her to go get the train, she may look around for the train, look back at you, and then follow your point to the train. She should be pointing at things of interest steadily now and using her eye gaze to share things with you (joint attention). She will also start to give you items she likes to share them with you. Maybe even her goldfish crackers ;)

Development from 15-18 Months

Remember how we talked about in my previous posts that around 6 months little ones begin communicating with intent? This time in development is when we start to really see this take off! In this next year, she will be working on using language with intent to get her needs met. She will begin using language to request things, greet others, calling for people, asking questions, answering questions, and labeling objects. She also will start repeating more and more of what she hears and practicing her speech and language skills while alone (chatting to herself in her crib or during solo play). So how many words should she have now? Towards the end of this time frame (18 months) she should have at least 8-10 (minimum) but could have closer to 50! {My own daughter had about 10 words at 18 months but by 19 months she had around 50+! In one month, she gained at least 40 new words. My son did not reach the 50 word mark until closer to 21 months.}

Receptively (what she can understand), she will be able to name some body parts when asked, follow more simple commands (come here, get your shoes, open the door), and answer simple questions like “Where is the doggy?” or “Where’s your shoe?” Around now you should be seeing your little one start to take part in more “pretend” or “symbolic” play. That is, you should see her pretend to feed a baby, talk on the phone, or drink out of a toy cup. She should enjoy playing around other children (they don’t play “together” quite yet) and should be showing interest in other children in general.

How You Are Shaping Your Child’s Language

During this time, you are doing many things (mostly unknowingly) to help foster your child’s speech and language development. When your child points at something, you respond by talking all about it. When he says something, you often repeat it and then expand on it. When you are roaming the grocery store, cooking, or doing other errands, you are probably narrating your actions. Not only that, but you probably find yourself narrating your child’s actions throughout the day as well. All of these things are helping your child learn language! Keep it up!

There is a Very Big Range Of “Normal” Right Now

The time period of 12-24 months has one of the biggest ranges of “normal” in terms of speech and language development. Some 12 months olds have several words while others will not utter the first word until closer to 15 months. Some children at 24 months are speaking in short sentences while others are just beginning to to put two words together. And this is all normal. That said, there are some red flags to watch out for during this time. Check out my RED FLAGS page for more information.

So now your child is starting to talk, is walking, pointing, and beginning to pretend! She has somewhere between 10-50 words,  is following simple commands, and follows your point with her gaze. She remembers where she last saw items and will go look for them. What’s next? Next week we will talk more about your child’s vocabulary development and how he is communicating to you in Speech and Language Development 18-24 months. If you haven’t checked them out yet, here are the first installments in this series. See you next week!

Speech and Language Development Birth-6 Months

Speech and Language Development 6-12 Months

Speech and Language Development: The First Word

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