The Speech, Language & Learning Center

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18 Months to 3 Years of Age



Early intervention is the key to a child's communicative success. Children with communication delays can be identified as early as 18 months of age because they are not meeting their developmental milestones. There is a range of accepted communication milestones, but the following represents the typical development:

At 18 months of age, your child should:

  • – respond to his or her name consistently
  • – say at least 10 familiar words
  • – produce four or more different sounds (ba, da, na, ma)
  • – imitate familiar sounds (such as car or animal sounds)

At 21 months of age, your child should:

  • – say 15 to 20 words
  • – hand you a toy or other object on request
  • – understand common directions (such as "sit down" or "come here")

At 24 months of age, your child should:

  • – follow directions involving prepositions ("put it on the table")
  • – recognize objects by function ("show me what you can ride")
  • – say a minimum of 50 words
  • – put two words together ("more milk" or "go mommy")
  • – produce six or more different sounds (pa, ba, da, na, ta, wa, ma)
  • – be understood approximately 60% of the time (speech clarity)

At 30 months of age, your child should:

  • – consistently use two-word sentences
  • – ask for assistance
  • – answer yes/no questions
  • – be understood approximately 75% of the time
  • – be adding 100 new words per month
  • – imitate words and phrases easily

At 3 years of age, your child should:

  • – follow two-step directions ("go get your shoes and get in the car")
  • – use three- to five-word sentences
  • – ask "how" and "why" questions
  • – be understood 90% of the time by all listeners
  • – say most sounds correctly (except s, th, r, l and blends)