2-Year-Old Speech and Language Skills

2-Year-Old Speech and Language Skills

This post is all about how your 2-year-old should be communicating.  Keep in mind that these milestones are based on research about typically-developing children but this information is not meant to diagnose a speech-language delay or disorder.  There is a wide range of what is considered “normal” in 2-year-old speech and even if your child is slightly delayed in a few of these areas, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has a speech or language delay.  Please contact a speech-language pathologist for a screening if you are concerned about your child’s speech and language skills.  All norms are taken from the  Liguisystems Guide to Communication Milestones which sites the specific resources and research articles used to find each milestone.

Speech Sound Development:

By 2-years of age, a stranger should be able to understand your child’s speech about 50% of the time.  Your child should be using a variety of vowels and consonants but it isn’t a problem if he/she can’t produce them all yet.

Sentence Development:

  • Produces sentences that are an average of 2-words long.  That means, some utterances will be 1-word, some 2-words, and some 3-words long

How to Increase Sentence Length

  • Uses intonation to ask yes/no questions
  • Uses some “wh-” questions, like “what?”, “what that?”, or “where mommy?”

Asking and Answering Questions Resource Page

Social/Pragmatic Language Use:

  • Follows simple directions, especially with a gestural cue

How to Get a Child Following Directions

  • Waves bye-bye
  • Indicates wet pants
  • Repeats actions that made someone laugh
  • Plays next to other children
  • Pairs gestures with words to get wants and needs met
  • Imitates adult behaviors in play

How to Increase Imitation in Play

  • Refers to self by name
  • Protests by saying “no”
  • Does “pretend play”, such as talking on a phone or pretending to eat play food
  • Talks to self during play
  • Uses social words like “hi”, “bye”, “thanks”, “please”

Literacy/Book Skills

  • Recognizes certain books by their covers
  • Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes

How to Read to Children

  • Turns pages
  • Points to and labels pictures by herself

Vocabulary Resource Page

  • Pretends to read books

Literacy Resource Page

Concept Development

  • Follows simple spatial directions, such as “in” and “on” (put it in the barn, put it on the barn)
  • Can follow the direction “give me another one”
  • Uses simple directional terms, such as “up” and “down”

How to Teach a new Spatial Concept

Vocabulary Development

If you had been counting all of the words your child can say, your 2-year old should have about 200-300 words in his vocabulary.  Now, I don’t recommend you go count all of them, but this should give you a rough estimate to go by.

Vocabulary Resource Page

Asking Questions

  • Looks in the appropriate place when asked a simple question like “where’s daddy?”
  • Chooses an object purposefully when asked about a choice of two, such as “do you want milk or juice?”

Questions Resource Page

2-Year-Old Speech: Red Flags

If your child shows these signs, please talk to your child’s pediatrician or speech-language pathologist.

  • Has a vocabulary of fewer than 50 words
  • Doesn’t have much interest in social interactions

I hope this information has helped you!  Don’t forget to Sign up for my mailing list so you can be updated about new resources and products on the Speech and Language Kids Website!

SLPCarrie 2017-04-25T20:20:57+00:00

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    1. belinda May 29, 2015 at 4:34 pm – Reply

      helpful, thank you. hope to get more info

        • SLPCarrie June 1, 2015 at 3:26 pm – Reply

          Great! Let me know if you have further questions!

    1. Debbie O’Brien July 2, 2015 at 11:32 pm – Reply

      Thanks Carrie.
      It’s a good site you have created. I just explored what I already knew, that my 2 year old grandson is way behind but he loves books and exploring the world so I think it’s just a delay. He throws lots of tantrums when he can’t be understood but I have taught him lots of sign language and that has helped.
      Please keep sending me your newsletters as I have worked alongside Speehies in Australia at a school and loved to pick up great hints and tips.

        • SLPCarrie July 3, 2015 at 10:25 am – Reply

          Perfect! I’m glad my information and site are helping you. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

    1. Rumana July 21, 2015 at 5:07 pm – Reply

      Thanks Carrie, my son is 4 and has autism. Your information are very useful. As my son communication is developing I need to regularly set some goal to work on it. I got some idea from your website what should I work on according to his developmental age . This what I really needs now. Thanks again.

        • SLPCarrie July 22, 2015 at 1:36 pm – Reply

          Excellent! I’m glad it’s helping!

    1. KSD August 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm – Reply

      My daughter is 21 months old. I’m really struggling with getting her to learn things such as colors, shapes, objects, sounds, etc. She knows 2 and 3. She says mama, dada, and Ty (her brother). I’m not sure she has a learning disability or speech delay. She babbles and talks, but you have to really pay attention to hear the words and sentences. She just doesn’t seem interested and it is starting to discourage me.

        • Carrie Clark August 23, 2015 at 6:16 pm – Reply

          Have you discussed this with your child’s pediatrician? I do not know what state you are located but there is likely an agency that will provide an assessment for you free of charge. It goes by a different name in each state but there should be a resource in your state that manages children with potential delays from 0-3 years of age. (3 and older are typically managed by the school system.) Your child’s doctor would be an excellent place to start to get a referral or a direction to pursue for help. It is hard for me to say if your child has a speech and language delay or something else going on just by discussing her online, but I have found that if a mom has a concern then it is best to trust your gut instinct. Let me know if there is anything else I can do to point you in the right direction.

    1. LeAnne February 15, 2016 at 1:50 am – Reply

      Thank you for this! I have worried my son is language delayed for almost his entire life (he’s 2.5), but now I’m thinking he is doing just fine. I became so concerned last week when I read he should have around 400 words that I did create an Excel spreadsheet and began listing words I knew he’d used in categories such as transportation, animal, people… My last count was 243, but I know I’ve missed some. I’d guess 260 or so. We live in China (but are American), so some of his words are Chinese. He does use English to say “thank you” to a Western friends and will yell, “Xie xie, shu shu!” loudly (“thank you ‘uncle’”) to the taxi driver, so he’s even differentiating languages based on person. He’s always been extremely vocal with words – they were just his own language for so long. Is it myth or real that children regularly exposed to two languages have a bit of a delay?

        • SLPCarrie February 17, 2016 at 10:45 am – Reply

          I can never find any research that specifically supports this but I have definitely seen children learning two languages have a short delay for a while and then they catch up and have superior language skills after that. There probably is some research on this somewhere but I just can’t seem to get my hands on it.

    1. aruna March 15, 2016 at 5:18 am – Reply

      hello carrie ,

      i have 19 months old baby girl. she plays herself. and always stays in her own world by listening to music and rhymes and she is attracted towards green colour. and she watches tv (cartoons and advertisements) . but when i take her to other kids she doesnot interact with them she is so specific like she loves to swing so she directly goes near the swing and swings. she shows all signs like she points out she need this and that. she conveys with her actions but my main concern is she doesnot even respond to her name.. what should i do. she is my first child and iam literally worried does she have any problem

        • SLPCarrie March 29, 2016 at 1:55 pm – Reply

          I’m so sorry to hear that your daughter is struggling! I highly recommend seeking an evaluation from a certified speech-language pathologist in your area. If you are in the United States, your state education department will have a free evaluation program set up. In Missouri, it’s called “First Steps”. You’ll need to search your state’s dept. of education website for information about your state’s birth-3 years program!

    1. Alma December 9, 2016 at 5:47 pm – Reply

      Hi my granddaughter was born with cataracts. She has had surgeries and now has her lenses. She is going to soeech & occupati therphy twice a week. She also has a waling problen just got her AFO braces which seeem to help they say it’s all related to her eyesight which they say she has poor torso strength. My grandson just went to his 2 year ckup and they suggested speech therapy he says a few words. Do you think its because his 6 year old sister does not talk that this is his delay? What would you siggest. Thanks Alma

        • SLPCarrie January 5, 2017 at 1:32 pm – Reply

          Hello! I have not seen any research that indicates that being around a child with speech problems will cause other children to have them as well. I would guess that the 2-year-old is around many, many people in his life who do speak so it would be odd that he would model after the one that doesn’t talk.

    1. Susana Ruiz June 1, 2017 at 11:28 pm – Reply

      Hi my son is about to be 2 in 3 months he is just sonbehing in speaking everything else i have never had any trouble with, he doesnt take botttle no more and sleeps on his own. He only says ma , pa ,ai and que . His pediatrician gave me the option to start him on speech therapy but i dont know what to do. She mentioned “boys take longer to develop and speak”. He is very attentive to tv commercials and we are currently not letting him watch tv for mord than 1 hr a day. Is he too young for speech therapy? Does it really help?

        • Kena Roth January 31, 2018 at 8:57 am – Reply

          Hi, Susana-
          Here are a few blog posts that may help: https://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/screen-time-and-language-development/ and https://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/?s=late+talker. I hope these are helpful. If you still have questions, please let us know!

    1. Gab March 28, 2018 at 11:43 am – Reply

      It’s not recommended for any child under 2 years of age to be watching any tv

        • Dawn R Richmond July 8, 2018 at 12:18 pm – Reply

          Regarding TV I have raised 5 children and a few Grandchildren. They have all watched TV before 2 yrs old. They watch Childrens programs and it has helped to stimulate them and they all have seemed to know what they liked or did not like. My granddaughter loved Dora at 3 months, if you turned to another program or turned it off she would cry. You would put Dora back on and she would smile and laugh. My 2 yr old grandson is having a hard time with speech only because he is spoken to in both English and Spanish and I think it confuses him. But he communicates very well in what he wants or does not want.Two of my grandchildren listened to Baby Classical Music and were always above their grade level by 2-3 grades. One got honor roll from k-6 and got the President Award.

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