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Speech and Language Milestones: the Second Year

During the second year, children become increasingly able to use speech and language for a variety of purposes. Not only will they be able to tell you their wants and needs, but as their vocabularies increase, they will also learn to use language to label objects, ask questions, describe ideas, and comment about their world.

Children will also make the exciting transition from using single words to combining words to make phrases and sentences. Although milestones continue to serve as a good general guide for typical speech and language development, try not to get too caught up in comparing your child to others.  Language development can vary greatly from child to child during the second year especially.

12–15 Months


Gestures and verbalizes (words and babbling) to communicate

Learns new words each month


Follows simple directions and understands basic questions

Will listen to simple stories, rhymes, and songs 

15–18 Months


Communicates with greater intent (requesting, labeling, commenting, greeting others)

Begins asking simple questions (e.g. “Where Daddy?”)

Repeats words frequently

Has an average range of 10 – 50 words


Points to some body parts when named

Demonstrates an increase in pretend play (e.g. pretends to feed doll)

18–24 Months


Begins to put two words together (e.g. “More milk.”)

Can use p, b, m, t, d, n, w, h

Many other speech sounds may be mispronounced


Answers simple questions

Points to pictures of common objects when named

So when should you be concerned about your toddler’s speech and language development? If by 24 months of age, you should alert your pediatrician and your child should be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist if your child:

Does not combine two words to make meaningful phrases

Unable to follow simple directions

Unable to point to pictures when named

Speech is unclear 50 percent of the time

Although children develop speech and language at their own pace, if your child does not seem to be making progress and demonstrates these red flags, a speech-language evaluation is warranted.  The second year is a good time to address any potential issues early on.

More in milestones:

Why developmental milestones will make you crazy

Newborn to 1 Month: Emotional Development

Newborn to 1 Month: Physical Development

Newborn to 1 Month: Cognitive Development

2-4 Months: Physical Development

2-4 Months: Emotional Development

2-4 Months: Cognitive Development

5-7 Months: Emotional Development

5-7 Months: Physical Development

8-12 Months: Emotional Development

8-12 Months: Cognitive Development

8-12 Months: Physical Development

12-15 Months: Emotional Development

12-15 Months: Physical Development

12-15 Months: Cognitive Development

16-19 Months: Emotional Development

16-19 Months: Physical Development

16-19 Months: Cognitive Development

20-24 Months: Emotional Development

20-24 Months: Physical Development

20-24 Months: Cognitive Development

Speech and language milestones: baby\’s first year


  • American Speech, Hearing and Language Association
  • How Does Your Child Hear and Talk?
    Centers for Prevention and Disease Control
  • Milestones, Two Years.
    American Association of Pediatrics
  • Language Development, Two Year Olds.

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