While it’s normal to measure your toddler’s speech development against that of other children his age, some children develop speech at a steadily increasing rate, while other children do so in a less predictable pattern. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, speech development varies widely before school age, but during the second year of life, most toddlers will have mastered some speech basics.
Your 2-year-old understands most of what you say, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, her rapidly growing vocabulary includes 50 or more words by the time she turns 2 years old. By the end of this year, your toddler will have a vocabulary of about 300 words, using mainly names of things, people and actions. She refers to herself by name, and can identify favorite objects, foods and people. At 2, toddlers begin to use pronouns such as I, you, me and we, and can pronounce d, f, g, k, n and t sounds clearly.
According to Thornapple Kellogg Schools, when your child reaches 2 years old, he is beginning to listen for the meaning of words, not just the sounds. At this age, children understand simple questions and instructions, and can identify differences in meaning between two opposite terms, such as stop and go and up and down. Your toddler can identify body parts, objects and people, and point them out or name them. He will also be able to follow two requests at the same time, such as “Get your toys and put them in the box.” You may also notice that your toddler sits for longer periods of time when you read to him and he begins using words to describe ideas or information, and to express physical or emotional needs.
Over the course of your toddler’s second year, you’ll see a growth in his ability to hold a conversation with you, and according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, his speech will become clearer to others outside your home. Your toddler will move from two- to three-word sentences to sentences with four or more words. Although toddlers usually prefer to ask the questions, your toddler will also respond to your questions. You may find him holding conversations with dolls and stuffed animals, as he practices his developing communication skills.
Encouraging Speech Development
Encouraging your toddler’s speech development is simple. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, by talking to your toddler using clear, simple words that are easy to imitate and showing your toddler you’re interested in what she has to say, you’re helping her improve her speech. Asking her to repeat words or phrases you don’t understand doesn’t hinder speech development. Instead it shows your toddler that what she has to say is important to you. Expand her vocabulary by reading books that have a simple sentence on each page and naming objects and describing pictures on each page with her. Offer synonyms for familiar words to increase her vocabulary and use these new words in sentences so your toddler understands how they’re to be used. You can also sing songs or recite nursery rhymes to introduce the sounds and rhythm of speech to your toddler.