As with other skills and milestones, the age at which kids learn to talk may vary. Many babies can easily say “mama” and “dada” well before their first birthday, and most toddlers can say about 20 words by the time they reach their 18th month. But what if a two-year-old isn’t really talking yet, or only put two words together?
Knowing what’s normal and what’s not in speech development helps parents know if there’s cause for concern or if their child is right on schedule. During checkups doctors look to see if kids have reached these speech and language milestones:
Before 12 months
By their first year, babies should be using their voices to interact with their environment. “Mama” and “dada” are commonly used around 9 months. Babies should be paying attention to sound. Babies who watch intently but don’t react to sound could be showing signs of hearing loss.
By 12 to 15 months
Kids by this age should begin to imitate the sounds and words they hear, and often say one or more words aside from “mama” and “dada.”
From 18 to 24 months
Most toddlers can say about 20 words by 18 months and 50 or more on their second year. By age 2, kids should start to combine words to make simple sentences such as “mama milk” or “big ball.”