toddler speech milestones 18 months

Speech Milestones for 18-Month-Olds – From Akron Speech Therapists

Is your toddler’s talking (or lack thereof) concerning you? Is it possible they aren’t reaching the speech milestones they should at 18 months?

Our Akron speech therapists always advise parents to always seek professional input if they have concerns. If nothing else, it will put your fears to rest. And if there is an issue, it’s always better to act sooner than later. Early intervention has proven critical to the best long-term outcomes when it comes to speech and language delays and disorders.

At around 18 months old, most children are experiencing significant growth in their speech and language abilities. While there can be some variation in development among individuals, here are some common speech milestones you can expect around this age:

  1. Vocabulary: Children typically have a vocabulary of around 20-50 words by 18 months. They may start to combine two words together, such as “more milk” or “bye-bye mommy.”
  2. Word Comprehension: They can understand and follow simple instructions, such as “bring me the ball” or “wave bye-bye.” Their understanding of words and commands is usually more advanced than their ability to express themselves.
  3. Gestures: Children at this age often use gestures along with their words to communicate. They may point to objects they want, raise their arms to be picked up, or shake their head for “no.”
  4. Simple Speech Sounds: By 18 months, children may be able to produce a range of consonant sounds, such as p, b, m, t, d, and n. However, their pronunciation might still be unclear, and they may simplify some words.
  5. Babbling: They continue to babble and experiment with various sounds, combining consonants and vowels to form syllables (e.g., “bababa,” “mamama”).
  6. Imitation: Children at this age are good at imitating sounds, words, and simple phrases. They may repeat words they hear and attempt to mimic the intonation and rhythm of speech.
  7. Social Interaction: Their social communication skills improve, and they may engage in more back-and-forth interactions, using sounds, words, and gestures to get attention or express their needs.

Remember that these speech milestones are general guidelines, and there can be some individual variation.

Ways to Encourage Toddler Speech-Language Development

Encouraging speech and language development in your 18-month-old can be done through various activities and interactions. Here are some tips to help stimulate your child’s language skills:

  1. Talk and Engage: Engage in frequent conversations with your child, even if their responses are limited. Talk about daily activities, objects, and events happening around them. Use simple and clear language, emphasizing key words.
  2. Read Together: Read books to your child regularly. Choose age-appropriate books with colorful pictures and simple stories. Point to objects and name them, encourage your child to repeat words, and ask simple questions about the story.
  3. Sing Songs and Rhymes: Sing nursery rhymes and children’s songs together. These help develop your child’s vocabulary, rhythm, and language patterns. Encourage your child to join in and repeat words or phrases.
  4. Expand Vocabulary: Introduce new words and concepts during daily routines and playtime. Label objects and actions, and describe what is happening around them. Use gestures and facial expressions to help convey meaning.
  5. Play and Pretend: Engage in pretend play activities with your child, such as playing with dolls, toy animals, or kitchen sets. Use pretend scenarios to encourage your child to use words and communicate their ideas.
  6. Encourage Imitation: Model clear and correct speech for your child. Encourage them to imitate sounds, words, and short phrases. Repeat their attempts and expand on their language to help them learn new words and sentence structures.
  7. Provide Choices: Offer choices to your child to encourage them to use words. For example, ask, “Do you want an apple or a banana?” This promotes decision-making and language use.
  8. Limit Screen Time: Minimize screen time and prioritize interactive activities that involve face-to-face communication. Screen time should be used sparingly and should not replace real-life interactions.
  9. Be Patient and Supportive: Give your child time to respond and express themselves. Be patient and avoid finishing their sentences for them. Show interest, provide positive reinforcement, and praise their efforts.

Again, if you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development, our Akron speech therapists do not advise a wait-and-see approach. Contact your pediatrician for a referral to a speech-language pathologist for a formal evaluation.

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Early Intervention for Toddlers With Language Delays: A Randomized Controlled Trial, April 2015, Megan Y. Roberts, PhD, CCC-SLP and Ann P. Kaiser, PhD, Pediatrics

More Blog Entries:

At-Home Speech Therapy Practice During Bedtime Story Routine, April 18, 2023, Akron Speech Therapy Speech Milestones Blog