Developmental Milestones: Talking

Over the past 24 months your child has been steadily developing its comprehension, listening and verbal skills. As a result, by the time it  reaches its second birthday it will have developed an impressive vocabulary base that will continue to expand on a daily basis. With improved vocabulary and listening skills, your child will be picking up all sorts of words and sounds, imitating people around it, the television characters it's watching, and the children it plays with. You'll be astounded by how quickly your child will begin stringing together more complex sentences.

Your Child's Progress

Between the ages of 2 and 3, your child will have a rough vocabulary store of around 300 words, but it will be able to understand up to 900 words. The first thing you can expect your child to be practicing is its modulation skills as it tries to find the appropriate volume to use in different situations. It will also be improving at using pronouns such as "me", "you" and "I." It might even begin to use past and future tenses – if somewhat incorrectly – to refer to past, present and future events. By your child's third birthday, strangers won't need you to translate what your child is trying to say to them any more, and your little one will be on the way to becoming a sophisticated speaker.

How You Can Help

One great way to improve your child's talking and language skills is to read to it frequently. Books can help preschoolers improve their vocabulary, make better sense of grammar, and link word meanings to pictures. Even talking to your child can help improve its language skills, so try to chat with your preschooler more often and listen to what it says.  

If your child uses a pacifier, try to get them to get rid of it, as sucking on a pacifier forces the child's mouth into an unnatural position, making it more difficult for them to develop and strengthen their facial muscles. Also, if their mouth is constantly engaged by a pacifier, they are not receiving an adequate amount of opportunities to practice talking.


What to Watch Out For

Keep tabs on your child's language progress to determine whether its development is on track or if it needs some help. If by the age of 2 years old your preschooler doesn't or rarely tries to talk to you, or if it doesn't react when you call its name when you're not within its range of sight, you might want to check with your pediatrician whether your child might have a speech or hearing problem. Also, if your child simply echoes your questions rather than answering them, you should talk to your pediatrician about the possibility of your preschooler having autism.

Your preschooler might have a speech impediment if by age 3 it has trouble pronouncing vowels, in which case it will need speech therapy to solve the problem. Other signs you should watch for are lack of eye contact, difficulty in naming common household objects, and an inability to use two to three-word phrases. You needn't worry too much if your child has a bit of a stutter at first, as most children develop a stutter when they're still working on their ability to express themselves. If the condition persists, however, talk to your pediatrician.