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Toddlers' Language Development from 12-18 Months


two toddlers playing on the floor with toys



During the first 18 months, your child will babble constantly. It's part of learning language.  And more words will come.  

Here's what else you can expect with your toddler's language development at this age.

You can probably anticipate and understand much of what your toddler is trying to communicate, even if others cannot. And even though your toddler can't say much yet, he or she can understand you, too. "No!" is probably a favourite word. 

Other Language Milestones

At 12 to 18 months, the typical toddler:

  • Will point to show you something. 
  • Understands far more words than he can speak. For example, he can point when asked, "Where's your belly button?" 
  • Uses a vocabulary of five or more words to make short expressions such as “all gone.” 
  • Uses "no" correctly, often with a shake of her head. 
  • Forms questions by making his voice rise at the end of the sentence: “Daddy go?” 
  • Tries to sing songs. 

Play and Activity

Foster your child’s flourishing language skills by reading books and singing songs together as often as possible. Be sure to use different voices and lots of expression when reading to your toddler. Not only will this entertain your child, it will help to encourage her language development.

Here are some more ideas for nurturing language skills:

  • Expand on your toddler’s language: If your toddler says "Doggie," you say "Yes, that is a dog."
  • Complete your toddler’s sentences. For example, if your toddler says, "Daddy going...," say, "Daddy is going to the car." 
  • Read and sing nursery rhymes. 
  • Give your toddler books to look at. 
  • Encourage your toddler to point out objects in picture books. 
  • Monitor your use of "no," and use it only when needed for safety. 
  • Keep a diary of the words your toddler says. It may surprise you how quickly your toddler learns language. 

Other Language Milestones

Between 12 and 18 months your toddler may also:

  • Begin to understand basic sentences. 
  • Name pictures in a book. 
  • Use one word to name things he sees or wants. For example, your toddler may say "More" for "I want more." 
  • Copy animal sounds. 
  • Use her own name to refer to herself. 
  • Follow simple directions. 
  • Look at what you're talking about. 
  • Start combining words to form two word sentences. For example, "Mommy ball!" for "Mommy, I want the ball."
Last Updated: August 10, 2013