Speech Development for Toddlers 24 – 36 Months

CME WebsitesChild Development, Toddlers 12 - 36 Months

In speech development, most two-and-a-half-year olds can:

  • Use 50+ words
  • Answer questions
  • Refer to self as “I” or “me”
  • Communicate mostly with speech and shows frustration when misunderstood

In speech development, most three-year-olds can:

  • Identify body parts
  • Carry on a ‘conversation’ with self and dolls
  • Ask “what’s that?” And “where’s my?”
  • Use 2-word negative phrases such as “no want”
  • Form some plurals by adding “s”: book, books
  • Speak 450 words
  • Give first name, hold up fingers to tell age
  • Combine nouns and verbs “mommy go”
  • Understand simple time concepts: “last night”, “tomorrow”
  • Refer to self as “me” rather than by name
  • Try to get adult attention: “watch me”
  • Like to hear same story repeated
  • Possibly say “no” when means “yes”
  • Talk to other children as well as adults
  • Solve problems by talking instead of hitting or crying
  • Answer “where” questions
  • Name common pictures and things
  • Use short sentences like “me want more” or “me want cookie”
  • Ask questions starting “when”, “where” or “who”
  • Be understood 80% of the time
  • Use vocabulary of 200+ words
  • Repeat five word sentences
  • Can often make words into the plural  e.g. “She ‘doed’ this…”

Parenting Tips for Speech Skills

Suggested play to help with toddler speech development between 2 and 3:

  • Take field trips. Your child will enjoy going to new places. This doesn’t need to be expensive. For example, take a bus to a different part of town, walk by the big buildings, then sit on a bench and watch the buses and trucks drive by. Even better, see if you can find a construction site! Little boys and girls both love to watch back hoes in action.
  • Make sock puppets. No need to make this an elaborate craft project. Simply put a sock over your hand and pretend to talk to your toddler. “I’m Suzy the sock. I love to keep your toes warm.” Encourage your toddler to talk back (as him/herself, or as another sock).
  • Sing songs. If you don’t remember songs from your own childhood, go to the library and pick up a book with “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” or “Ba Ba Black Sheep.” Your toddler will love to sing the song for someone else in the family.
  • Wash a baby. Give your toddler a plastic tub and a plastic doll and have him/her wash the doll or, he/she can bring the doll into the tub. Name the doll parts as they are washed, You did a good job washing the baby’s feet! Praise your child for taking such good care of his/her baby.
  • What did I hear? Try this at night. When the house is quiet, listen with your child for interesting sounds. “What’s that?” “Its the refrigerator motor.” This is good to do on a summer night when you might hear crickets, wind chimes or a dog barking.
  • Make a photo album. Fill this book with pictures of people and pets that your child knows. As your child is looking at the book, ask him/her to tell you a little bit about the people or pets that he/she sees.
  • Play the forgetful game. You child will laugh when you give everyday household items silly names. Point to your child’s bed and say, “I forget what this is. Is it a car?” Your child will enjoy telling you the real word. The sillier you are makes this even better!
  • Read, pause and ask. When reading a book, take the time to stop and ask questions. Point to the illustrations and ask your toddler what they think will happen next.