You are at a playdate with a friend, and you realize that your 18-month-old is not talking as much as your friend’s child. Do not worry, you are not alone! It is so important to remember that all children develop at different rates. Just because your child is not exhibiting a certain skill now, does not mean they will not achieve the milestone later. Speech and language pathologists can evaluate your 18-month-old and treat early communicators, helping to support you along the way. With that said, here are 18-month speech milestones to look for including five strategies to help.
18-Month Speech Milestones
At 18-months-old (or within the 12-24 month range) your child should be able to hear and understand the following:
- Point to a few major body parts when asked, such as tummy, feet, nose, and mouth
- Follow simple 1-step directions, such as “take it out” or “kiss the baby”
- Shows an understanding of simple questions, such as “where is the ball?” or “who’s that?”
- Enjoys listening to stories, songs, fingerplays, and nursery rhymes
- Understands some early prepositions, such as in, on, out, off
- Chooses familiar objects from a group on request
- Understands familiar action words, such as jump, clap, swing
How Much Should an 18-Month-Old Talk?
Each child develops speech and language skills at their own pace, so these 18-month-old speech milestones are approximate and will look different for each child.
At 18 months old (or within the 12-24 month range) your child should be able to use the following words and expressive language skills:
- Imitate play sounds and words
- Use true words within jargon or babbling
- Use a variety of speech sounds such as p, b, m, h, w
- Start to name familiar objects
- Use gestures to communicate with intention
- Use languagehttps://www.intensivetherapyforkids.com/aphasia-vs-dysphagia/ to have needs met, such as asking for ‘more’
- Ask simple questions, such as “what’s that?”, or “where’s daddy?”
- Puts two words together, such as “more eat”, “mommy go”, and “no bed”
Is Your 18-Month-Old Not Talking? Try These 5 Strategies to Help…
Wondering how to get an 18-month-old to talk? These are some of NAPA’s speech therapist’s favorite strategies to create a language-rich environment for your child and motivate them to use their voice!
1. Parallel-Talk or Self-Talk
Parallel-talk and self-talk are both quick and easy ways to expose your child to more language.
Narrating what you are doing during the day, such as “Put ball in”, “Car goes up!”, or “Open the book”.
Narrating what your child is doing during the day, such as “Pop the bubbles”, “Turn the page”, or “Take cookie out”.
2. Gentle Sabotage
Refers to withholding motivating materials and/or activities to support the initiation of expressive languages, such as waiting for your child to use a word or word approximation to request before rolling the ball back to them.
Repeating something your child says with the more detailed or grammatically correct language.
For instance, if your child says “more”, you could say, “I heard you telling me you want more!” followed up with “more cookie” or “I want more”.
4. Helping Phrases
Sing or speak a familiar verbal routine or song and intentionally pause; the pause provides your child the opportunity to “fill in the blank” with verbal approximations or words. You can do this with a variety of repetitive routines:
Some of NAPA speech therapists’ favorites is with music, pausing to complete the verse of a repetitive song – such as E-I-E-I…wait for “OH”.
5. Expectant Pause
A way to prompt communication without doing anything! The absence of verbal or gestural prompting gives your child the time to initiate and communicate when they are ready
This may seem uncomfortable, and we often find ourselves wanting to fill the silence – when you feel the urge to say something, wait three more seconds before prompting!
Again, each child develops speech and language skills at their own pace, so these 18-month speech milestones are approximate and will look different for each child.
For a more individualized understanding of why your 18-month-old is not talking or just babbling, schedule a speech and language evaluation or consult with a speech-language pathologist for further assistance!
About the Author
Tate Strack is a pediatric speech-language pathologist at NAPA Center Boston. When she’s not in a speech session, you can find her working out, binge-watching a wide variety of TV series, or eating dessert for dinner.
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What other 18-month speech milestones do you look for?
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