Return to Child Speech-Language Milestones – the Stages of Development

Speech and Language Developmental Milestones 18 – 24 months


Milestones 18 – 24 months

This is a continuation of the speech and language developmental milestones resource from 18 to 24 months (between 1.5 to 2 years).

The rate at which children reach their speech and language development milestones can vary depending on the child and the environment that surrounds them. Some children will develop certain speech and language skills quicker than others. However, despite a bit of difference between children, we expect most children to develop certain skills within a certain time-frame. You will see that many skills mentioned in the content below may be repeated over several age groups as children are all different and some children take longer to develop these abilities. This information sheet is just a general guideline, and many experts vary considerably on what they believe to be the normal stages of development.

To try and make this information easier to read we have created a made-up child called Bill. Bill was lucky, he had a childhood free of any illness or accidents and he had pro-active parents who played with him and gave him lots of quality one-to-one attention.


Speech and Auditory Awareness Milestones

18 – 24 months

Bill’s sound inventory is beginning to increase ( m n p b t d w h ) and he is using most vowel and diphthong sounds accurately. Other sounds that may be emerging are k g t ng, but many children will not have developed these yet. Bill may now be using between 10-20 words during this period. As well as real words, he still uses jargon and may often chatter away in jargon when looking at a book. Many babies like to sing in jargon and their vocalisations will increase as their activity level increases. Babies will often try to imitate words others are saying. Bill is beginning to put 2 syllables together, but it will generally be the same syllable duplicated e.g. “nana” for banana, “wawa” for water. Many words will be approximated and sounds that have not developed will be substituted. Final and medial sounds will also often be omitted. Bill now has an auditory memory that can store 2 items.


Expressive Language and Semantics (content) Milestones

18 – 24 months

Bill’s use of single words (nouns) is at around 10 – 20 during this period, with the occasional simple 2-word combination developing. He begins to understand that everything has a name and may try and request an object by name. Bill can produce some animal sounds, refer to himself by name and says “no”. He is using words now more often than gesture, but has learnt to shake and nod his head for yes / no.


Social use of Language (use and Pragmatics) Milestones

18 – 24 months

Bill is now initiating more communication and requesting help by gesturing and vocalising. He will show a preference for familiar people and more caution with strangers. He becomes more aware of the actions of others and will begin to imitate other children. He will also indicate his toilet needs. Bill now does not just seek out adults for comfort and safety but seeks them out to show them things and interact. Bill often gets lots of positive feedback from people when he interacts and this encourages him to interact even more.


Receptive Language (comprehension, perceiving and understanding) and Cognition Milestones

18 – 24 months

By this age Bill is understanding many single words and a few two word combinations. His receptive vocabulary is far in excess of his expressive vocabulary and he is possibly understanding 250 – 300 words. There is also an understanding of some “wh” questions (what/where/who) and he can point to major body parts, clothing items, toys and food when asked and is discriminating between songs. Bill is beginning to understand personal pronouns (my, mine, you) and starting to understand that things fit into categories (animals, food etc). His understanding and use of objects becomes more appropriate, with an ability to use simple conventional objects in an appropriate manner, e.g. hitting pegs with wooden hammer. Bill imitates some adult behaviour, plays simple games and points to objects in pictures. Object permanence is now well demonstrated and Bill is able to find familiar objects when they are not in sight. Bill’s understanding of cause and effect is also developing further, which makes certain toys more fun.


Morphology and Syntax (structure) Milestones

18 – 24 months

Bill is now understanding and following directions for simple actions (e.g. “jump down”) and although he is not using these types of sentences he is hearing them regularly and beginning to decode very simple syntax. This modelling by carers and parents will slowly impact on Bill’s use of language. As he develops through this stage he will be using two word combinations such as “more milk,” “big boy,” “daddy go”. Bill will be trying to tell others of his experiences by using jargon combined with some real words.


Gross and Fine Motor Skills Milestones

18 – 24 months

Bill is really becoming more active and inquisitive, running more freely, attempting to walk up stairs (holding on) and walking backwards while pulling a toy. He can throw a ball with direction, remove wrapping from a sweet and turn single pages in a book and pointing at the pictures. Bill now attempts to undress a little, although it is sometimes difficult. He has started to eat independently and will be using a spoon, although often clumsily. He likes drawing and although he mainly scribbles he can imitate a circular scribble. Overall his fine motor skills are coming into play a lot more,and he is developing and showing an ability to pick up smaller objects such as placing pegs in a pegboard.



Go to our Milestones Resources section for Downloadable facts-sheets about child speech and language development milestones. Click Here


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