When do toddlers start talking?

Parents of young children often ask questions like Why won’t my toddler talk? How can I help my 2 year old talk? Why is my 3 year old not talking?

These are common concerns and some education can help you understand whether you need to seek professional help or whether you and your child are experiencing regular growth patterns.

Children learn a number of things in their first two years, such as how to talk. Some start talking early and others do not. Most late talkers are busy learning other things but be sure to talk to a doctor, nurse or other professional if your baby is not talking like other babies. Here are some guidelines to help you.

AgeWhat to look for in a healthy, growing baby…Talk with a professional…
3 monthsBaby listens to your voice. He or she coos and gurgles and tries to make the same sounds as you.If your baby does not listen to your voice.
8 monthsBaby plays with sounds. Some of these sound like words (such as “dada” or “baba”). Baby smiles on hearing a happy voice and cries or looks unhappy when hearing an angry voice.If your 8-month old is not making different sounds.
10 monthsBaby understands simple words. She stops to look at you if you say “No-No”. If someone says “Where’s mommy?”, they will look for you. Baby will point, cry or do other things to “tell” you to pick her up or bring a toy.If your 10-month old does not look when people talk to him or her.
12 monthsFirst words! Baby says 1 or 2 words and understands 25 words or more. Baby will give you a toy if you ask for it. Even without asking Baby can ask you for something – by pointing, reaching for, or looking at it and babbling.If your 1-year old is not pointing at favorite toys or things she or he wants.
18 monthsMost children can say “thank you” and at least 30 or so other words and can follow simple directions like “jump.”If your 18-month old cannot say more than 5 words.
20 monthsYour child can put 2 words together in a sentence such as “car go” or “want juice”. They can follow directions when you say things like “close the door.” They can copy you when you say several words together. If your 20-month cannot follow simple directions like “Come to daddy.”
24+ monthsYour child adds endings to words such as “running” or “played” or “toys.” She likes hearing a simple children’s story. She understands 3 words about place such as “in”, “on” or “at.” If your 2-year old cannot say 50 words or does not use 2 words together.

Sign up and get our monthly email newsletter with lots more helpful information!