Toddlers say the most hysterical things -- but it doesn't start out that way. Though the exact age that each toddler will reach speech milestones varies from child to child, there are a few ballpark ranges in which parents can expect to see certain developments. Regardless of when the child reaches each stage, the full transition from the early, sweet babbling, to the raucous yelping doesn't happen overnight.
Basic Words: 12 to 18 Months
According to BabyCenter, the first important milestone in toddler speech begins around 12 to 18 months. The process begins with the use of one or two words in a meaningful way. Aside from learning to use a few critical words, toddlers at this stage will begin to learn how to use different tones of voice. For example, a tot asks to be picked up and raises his tone the way grownups do, as in "Up-py?" Parents can also expect to hear a few important things being asked for by name like "snack." At this stage, a child may even learn the family dog's name.
Phrases: 18 to 24 Months
Parents begin to worry when milestones aren't reached around this age. According to Dr. Anna Kaplan of EverydayFamily.com, there is no need to worry as long as your child has a vocabulary of roughly 10 words by 18 months. One exciting thing that may happen as the child approaches 24 months is the formation of short sentences, such as a name along with a request. Something along the lines of "Daddy candy," or "Mommy up."
Volume Level and Stories: 24 to 30 Months
Everyone has heard a screaming toddler in the grocery store. Unfortunately, it seems not everyone knows that experimenting with volume is an important part of learning to speak. But according to Baby Center, at this stage a toddler may yell when she means to speak normally or whisper when she answers a question. Even better, a toddler will now begin to speak in past tense and use the plural forms of words. Suddenly, nouns and verbs begin to form short sentences. The toddler may begin to use pronouns more frequently and refer to herself by name. If your child is not forming at least two-word sentences by this age, it may be worth mentioning to her doctor, to ensure there is not a developmental delay.
Real Conversations: 30 to 36 Months
Now that tone, volume and even verb tenses are used interchangeably, a child could be moving to the realm of holding a real conversation. He will most likely be able to ask all kinds of questions and construct them somewhat properly. Sure, verb tense isn't always correct, and grammar can be shaky, but around this time a child is able to be understood -- even by strangers -- without too much parental translation. Concepts like "next week," "yesterday" and "tomorrow" could begin to trickle into the child's conversations with real understanding. Stories will begin to develop and be recited by the child, as well. Even better, Kid's Spot notes that he will begin to sing songs from memory around 36 months, so it may suit you to keep the video camera charged.