4. Support for children aged 18 – 24 months

At this stage, children try out new things and explore the world around them more actively. 

By 2 years, usually, children will:

  • Concentrate on activities for longer, such as playing with a toy they like
  • Sit and listen to simple stories with pictures
  • Understand between 200 and 500 words
  • Understand more simple questions and instructions. For example, 'where is your shoe?' and 'show me your nose'
  • Copy sounds and words a lot
  • Use 50 or more single words. These will also become more recognisable to others
  • Start to put short sentences together with 2-3 words, such as ‘more juice’ or ‘bye nanny’.
  • Enjoy pretend play with their toys, such as feeding dolly
  • Use a more limited number of sounds in their words than adults – often these sounds are p, b, t, d, m and w. Children will also often miss the ends off words at this stage. They can usually be understood about half of the time.

How to Support Your Child

There are lots of things you can do to encourage children at this stage:

  • Talk about everyday activities like putting away the shopping. This helps children to connect language to the world around them. Remember to leave little gaps or pauses so that your child can respond.
  • Use objects and gestures to help them understand instructions and questions. It is also useful to give a child two or three options, such as, 'do you want teddy or the car?', 'is this your nose or your foot?'
  • Read books together. Looking at the pictures and describing them is just as good as actually reading the story. ’Lift-the-flap’ books also help concentration
  • Repeat and expand on what a child says. If a child says 'juice' you can say 'more juice', 'juice please' or 'juice gone'. This shows your child how words can be put together to make short sentences
  • Children learn speech sounds gradually. It is better to say the whole word back to a child rather than correcting them. It also helps them if they can see your face when you are talking to them. This helps them to watch and copy the movements of your lips

Things to look out for

For some children, developing communication can be a very difficult process. They may need extra help to develop their skills. You should be concerned if by 2 years, they are:

  • Slow to follow simple instructions
  • Not saying 25 recognisable words.