The age of two years is one in which children really begin to expand their speech. Your child can understand more of what you say and also put together more words to form short sentences. As parents, you always want to make sure your child is on track developmentally. You can do that with some background on speech development in 2 year olds.
At 2, your child probably understands short requests such as “Pick up the ball” or “Put that on the table.” He should also be able to point to certain objects when you prompt him; for example, “Where is the dog?” or “Find the ball.” He should say around 50 words and put together at least two words, such as “Up, Mommy” or “No milk.” Over the next year, he will add many more words, increasing his vocabulary to 150 to 200 words by the time he turns 3. He will also begin to combine even more words to form sentences. He will also begin using pronouns over the next year, such as “me," "my," "I" and "you.”
Although kids all develop at different rates, there are some signs that may indicate a speech delay. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one out of every 10 to 15 kids will have trouble with language comprehension and/or speech. Some signs that may signify a delay include not producing words or phrases spontaneously, not being able to communicate more than her immediate needs, not following simple directions, speaking in a raspy, nasal or otherwise unusual tone of voice or being difficult to understand.
A number of different factors can cause a delay in speech development in your 2 year old. Oral problems such as impairment of the tongue or the roof of the mouth can hinder speech. There may be problems with the areas of the brain used for speech leading to problems coordinating the lips, tongue and jaw. Hearing problems can also cause delays.
4. Medical Considerations
If your pediatrician has concerns over your 2 year old’s speech development, he will probably refer you to a speech language pathologist. A speech language pathologist conducts an evaluation that assesses what your child understands, what your child can say, whether your child attempts to communicate in other ways such as pointing and gesturing, clarity of speech and how your child’s mouth, tongue and roof of mouth work together for speech. The speech therapist will decide whether your child needs speech therapy.
5. Tips for Home
You can help your 2 year old’s speech development by talking to him frequently at home. If he refers to an object with a word that resembles the object, praise him and repeat the word correctly. For example, if he picks up the ball and says “ba,” say “Ball! Good job, you picked up the ball!” Explain what you’re doing throughout the day. For example, if you’re getting dinner ready, say, “I’m turning on the oven to cook dinner. I’m getting out a bowl to mix the potatoes.” Read to your child at home. Pick texture books, lift-the-flap books and books with lots of colorful pictures. Point out and name recognizable pictures in the book and have your child point to them. Singing to your child is also an effective way to help his speech development.
- HealthyChildren.org: Language Development, 2 Year Olds
- KidsHealth: Delayed Speech or Language Development
- WebMD: Children's Health - Speech and Language Development, Ages 1 to 3 Years
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: Speech and Language Developmental Milestones
- Mayo Clinic: Infant and Toddler Health
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images