WellSpan Home

Speech and Language Milestones, Ages 1 to 3 Years

Topic Overview

Speech and language development milestones relate to receptive language (the ability to understand words and sounds) and expressive language (the ability to use speech and gestures to communicate meaning).

Most 1-year-olds begin to understand the meanings of words. Their receptive language grows from understanding names of people and objects, to being able to follow simple requests sometime between ages 1 and 2. Expressive language advances from primarily using gestures and babbling at age 1, to using words, simple phrases, and some early sentence structures between ages 2 and 3.

Speech and language milestones

Age

Receptive language

Expressive language

1-year-olds (12 months to 24 months):

  • Learn that words have meaning.
  • Usually recognize the names of family members and familiar objects.
  • Understand simple statements such as "all gone" and "give me."
  • Between 1 and 2 years, understand simple requests such as "give daddy the ball."
  • By 18 months, know the names of people, body parts, and objects.
  • Use gestures, such as pointing.
  • Babble less than babies do.
  • Often make one- or two-syllable sounds that stand for items they want, such as "baba" for "bottle," and point to things they want.
  • Between 12 months and 18 months of age, may use their own language, sometimes called jargon, that is a mix of made-up words and understandable words.
  • Between 1 and 2 years, usually can say between 20 and 50 words that are intelligible to family members.

2-year-olds (24 months to 36 months):

  • Know the name of at least seven body parts.
  • Increase their understanding of object names.
  • Follow simple requests (such as "put the book on the table").
  • When asked, point to a picture of something named (such as "Where is the cow?" or "Show me the airplane.")
  • Continue to learn and use gestures.
  • Sometimes talk a lot, although some are quiet.
  • If quiet, develop a communication system using gestures and facial expressions.
  • Usually can name some body parts (such as arms and legs), favorite toys, and familiar objects (such as cats and dogs).
  • Use pronouns like "me" and "you," but they often get them mixed up.
  • Can make phrases, such as "no bottle" or "want cookie."
  • By age 3, usually can say between 150 to 200 words. Strangers can understand them about 75% of the time. footnote 1

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Andrews JS, Fieldman HM (2011). Language delay. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 331-334. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerLouis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics

Current as ofMarch 28, 2018


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×