As your child grows, their language skills will also develop. It’s important to be aware of language development milestones to ensure that your child is on the right track. Learn about these milestones and how to help your toddler and preschooler achieve them.
In the first few years of life, your child’s linguistic skills will develop substantially, from first words to complete phrases. Therefore, it can be difficult to determine if they are meeting projected milestones.
According to Rahil Briggs, Psy.D., a child psychologist, “every child learns at their own pace, but the simplest method to help your infant develop language abilities is to simply talk to them.” Children learn to speak and increase their vocabulary primarily through listening to their parents at home.
To assist you in monitoring your child’s development, we have outlined the normal language milestones to look for at each age. See a pediatrician for guidance if you believe your child is not maturing at a constant rate.
Language Development at One Year
Your infant is just beginning to communicate through means other than crying. You can expect your kid to be able to do the following by now.
Speak a few words.
Your toddler’s vocabulary is still limited, but you may help it increase by reading aloud and conversing with them daily, as recommended by Dr. Briggs. “At this age, the greatest worry is that the baby’s speech be ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ in particular, meaning that when they utter those two words, they are genuinely referring to Mom or Dad and not the cup or dog.”
Try to mimic your voice.
Your child may be using few words, but he or she is certainly trying to emulate what he or she hears others saying. According to Dr. Briggs, parents can expect to hear their child babbling vowels and consonants by the age of 8 or 9 months, and this should continue until the age of 12 months when the child will begin to construct words.
Currently, pediatricians are mostly concerned with your child’s receptive language. Are they familiar with your voice? Do they orient their head to various sounds? Do they smile when others smile?
“Even at this age, your infant may communicate and obtain what they desire by pointing or staring at an object. Also, they should be able to track your gaze and look where you are gazing,” Kenn Apel, PhD, co-author of Beyond Baby Talk, asserts that infants learn language through imitation. These responding behaviors are more significant than your child’s vocabulary at this age.
Follow basic instructions.
Along with responding, watch to see if your child obeys simple one-step instructions and commands, such as lifting their arms when you say “up,” sipping water when directed, giving up a toy when requested, and stopping what they’re doing when you say “no” (although they’ll probably try to do it again!).
Use body and hand motions.
During the first year, children will use their hands and bodies to communicate with their limited vocabulary. Even while gesturing is a natural element of communication for people of all ages, young children utilize it to develop their cognitive and verbal skills. According to a study, gestures while speaking can indicate language development in children.
Language Development in Two-Year-Olds
This age is the benchmark for determining whether a child’s speech development is on track. At this age, you can expect your kid to master the following skills.
Strengthen their vocabulary.
At 24 months, your child should frequently use approximately 50 words like more, juice, and Grandma. According to Dr. Briggs, the year between 12 and 24 months is the most interesting in terms of language development. Your child’s vocabulary is expanding, and they should be repeating the words they hear you say.
Connect words together.
You should also observe your child forming two-word sentences like “My ball” and “Car go.” At this time, though, you need not worry about their pronunciation; just around fifty percent of what they say will be fully comprehendible.
Your toddler will begin to grasp the concept of “me” and “you” at this point, but they may not always use the words correctly. They may, for instance, refer to themselves as “you.” This is quite normal, so don’t worry; they’ll soon get the hang of it.
Determine the identities of objects and bodily components.
Even if your child can’t yet put words to their pointing, they should be able to identify and name various parts of the body. Your child can also point to the correct photos of items when asked “Where is the ball?” or “Show me the dog?”
Language Development in Three-Year-Olds
Your youngster is becoming quite the chatterbox. Your child should now be capable of the following.
Communicate with clarity and simplicity.
After your child turns 3, you should be able to understand at least 75% of what they say. “You may have a discussion with a youngster of this age in which [they] ask you questions and tell you about their day,” explains Dr. Briggs.
String together multiple words.
You’ll be amazed at how your child speaks in three- to six-word sentences. Dr. Apel explains, “These are entire sentences, but simple ones, such as ‘Mother is eating.'” To assist your child in gaining extensive experience stringing words together, try the following:
Append “please” to another word to form a phrase such as “please stand up.”
When your child uses two-word combinations, you should repeat them back to them.
Give your youngster examples of word combinations to inspire them to experiment.
Pick your words carefully.
The days of pointing are coming to an end. Your child should know a word for nearly every object they wish to name and can vocally request or indicate objects.
Follow two-part instructions.
The ability to comprehend and carry out more complex demands is another improvement. Your child should respond appropriately to directives such as “Please remove your boots and place them on the shelf.”
Dr. Apel believes that “They should still be straightforward instructions utilized in a common setting so that [people] are familiar with them. If it is a brand-new event, it may be more challenging for your youngster to execute.”
Language Development of Four-Year-Olds
You have now officially entered “big child” territory. Your youngster is developing quickly, and their language is becoming astounding. You can expect your kid to be able to do the following by now.
Clarify your speech by using more complicated sentences.
Your preschooler can now tell you a complete story, such as what they’re doing in preschool, and you can comprehend practically every word. “Your child should be able to communicate with complete strangers by the time he or she is four years old,” says Dr. Apel.
Recognize colors, shapes, and the alphabet.
According to experts, 4-year-olds should be able to identify some colors, shapes, and letters. Dr. Apel advocates exploring letters and words with children at every opportunity. “You may utilize any opportunity, such as breakfast, to teach something new. Explain why, for instance, Cheerios is a big word whereas milk is short. It may just take a few minutes, but a youngster can learn a great deal in that time.”
Recognize the idea of time.
Your child may not be able to tell time yet, but they should be able to understand that things happen in a certain order, like breakfast in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, and dinner at night.
“It is good for children to have some redundancy in their lives,” argues Dr. Apel. “Doing the same tasks every day is beneficial because it helps children to focus on acquiring the language around them rather than the activity itself.”
Follow more complex instructions.
Around age 4, your child should be able to follow instructions with three or four steps, such as “Put away your book, brush your teeth, and then go to bed.” Your child should also be able to articulate their own wants and needs, making requests such as “I want pizza for dinner and Toy Story before bed.”
Pediatricians and speech pathologists are constantly on the lookout for challenges with receptive language, so if your child can’t follow instructions or doesn’t appear to comprehend what you’re saying, consult a physician.