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When Should My Toddler Start Talking & When Should I Worry If They Don't?

toddler language development taking

So many parents eagerly await the moment their baby says their first word. Whether it's mama or dada or some indecipherable word, it's an exciting milestone! As your baby nears toddlerhood, those single words will start to turn into baby babble, and before you know it, your little toddler will be talking up a storm. Language skills are one of the markers parents are told to pay close attention to (along with motor and cognitive skills) to track their baby's development. But if this is your first time down this road, you might not know what to expect! Here's what you need to know about this next stage of development for your toddler.

When To Expect Talking To Begin

Some babies will begin forming words as early as 7-9 months of age. But the real babbling typically picks up right around 12 months old. Initially, it will be a small collection of words mixed in with some indecipherable chatter. Your toddler will start to be able to ask for certain things, express happiness or displeasure, and respond to commands using language. By about 18 months, their vocabulary will explode, and their list of words will grow to about 50. Keep in mind, every child is different, and their language skills will develop at different paces. For example, girls tend to speak earlier than boys. And if you have older children, that can also impact language development! Some younger siblings speak earlier, while others develop those skills a bit later (with older siblings doing their talking for them!).

Happy girl and teacher having fun in nursery
Credit: iStock

What Talking Milestones Parents Can Expect

Every parent looks forward to the first word, but there are other language milestones to look forward too, as well. Most first words are simple combined sounds - think mama, dada, baba. Your little one may also begin using other simple words, like done, more, bye, hi, and of course, no. Once they start talking, you'll be amazed at how quickly they add words to their vocabulary! But if you can't quite understand what your toddler is saying in the beginning, don't fret. According to experts, children aren't expected to speak intelligibly until around 4 years of age. But by 2 years old, your toddler will have between 200-300 words, and they will use them A LOT.

Red Flags To Watch For

The development of language skills can worry a lot of parents. But it's so important to remember that every baby and toddler develops at their own pace, so try not to compare your toddler to anyone else. But there are some red flags to keep an eye out for, if you are concerned about your toddler's language development. If your toddler isn't pointing to objects of interest by 14 months, is not responding to their name by 15 months, is not speaking single words by 16 months, or had language progression followed by regression, talk to your pediatrician and language pathologist.

READ NEXT: 10 Tips To Boost A Child’s Language Development

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