Communication Development – What to expect from the 1 – 2 year old

Lets continue the journey of understanding communication development, with a focus on the toddler aged 12 to 24 months…

Receptive Language (Understanding of Language)

12 – 18 months

* Follows routines well

* Uses play items appropriately

* Simple directions are followed e.g. “Push the car”

* Identifies familiar objects from a group; e.g. a ball, bowl, spoon

18-24 months

* Stories and nursery rhymes are enjoyed, often repetitively by the toddler.

* Points to named body parts and objects in a storybook.

* Identifies photographs of familiar items or objects

* Understands action words e.g. running, drinking


Expressive Language (Speaking)

12-18 months   

* month by month more words are expressed.

* gestures, actions and facial expressions are also used in expressing needs and wants.

* single words such as “mummy”, “drink”, “no”, “more” appear.

* imitation of new words and songs are attempted.

18-24 months                   

* words increase in clarity

* questions start to be asked at x2 word level e.g. “what’s that?”, “where mummy?”.

* vocabulary is approximately 25-50 words

* 2 word combinations are used in different ways,

E.g. action + object = “drink milk”; person + action = “mummy eat”; person + place = “daddy here”

Speech Sounds

Between 1-2 years of age, toddlers experience a growth spurt of their word bank (vocabulary), and their speech becomes clearer to understand. Typically 50% of what a 2 year old says is easily understood by family and friends.

By 2 years, toddlers can say a range of speech sounds when talking (e.g. p, b, m, t, d, n, h, w)


If you have any queries about your child’s communication development; chat to a Speech Pathologist or your family doctor.


This article was published in the Spring Issue of Shire’s Children magazine, 2015; www.shireschildren.com.au 



www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au (Speech Pathology Australia – Fact Sheets)

www.speech-language-therapy.com  (Caroline Bowen)



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Mother of three young children, and senior level Speech & Language Pathologist. Sonia founded a successful Sydney based private practice in 2006. She regularly presents community seminars, writes articles for parent magazines and does guest speaker gigs on community radio. Sonia enjoys writing, and hopes one day to be a published children's picture book author too!

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