By Raising Children Network
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Toddler holding mum's thumb

In your child’s second year, you’ll be amazed at how much his vocabulary grows. He’ll start to understand what’s said to him. And by the year’s end, you might even understand some of what he says to you!

Here are some of the things your child might do from 1-2 years.


Your child will expand the vocabulary of words he understands from approximately 50 to around 300. At first he’ll understand mostly nouns (dog, bus, couch), then eventually a few verbs (eat, run) and adjectives (big, blue).

She’ll increase the number of words she can say:

  • at 12 months, about 1-3 words
  • at 18 months, about 10-50 words
  • at 24 months, about 300 words.


At around 12 months, your child will understand the names of things nearby – for example, common objects (cup, doll), body parts (tummy, toe) and clothes (sock, hat). But he’ll use the same words to refer to different things – for example, calling all animals ‘doggie’.

At around 15 months, she’ll point to things further away and ask you to name them.

At around 18 months, he’ll refer to himself by his name. A few months later, he’ll begin to understand and use ‘I’ to refer to himself. This is when he starts to realise he’s a separate person with his own ideas.

During this year, your child will understand some regularly used phrases (‘Give me a kiss’), simple directions (‘Stop that’) and very, very simple explanations. She’ll begin to be able to identify parts of her body, and to point to objects when asked (‘Show me the truck’).

Using words and sentences

At this age, your child will enjoy talking, using different tones and inflections, and often mixing ‘babble’ with real words. Your child might also enjoy saying the same sound or word over and over.

He’ll begin to put two words together (‘Mummy car’, ‘Me go’, ‘Sock foot’) as he nears the age of two. Words like ‘the’ and ‘is’ will be missing in these two-word sentences. He’ll use only a few descriptive words (big, red, sunny) at this age.


Your child will use a range of speech sounds, but it’s normal for her to pronunce words differently from the way adults would say them. For example, she might say ‘tar’ instead of ‘car’, or might leave off the ends of words altogether.

He’ll use pronunciation that will often get in the way of your understanding. By two years of age, about half of what he says might be understood by someone who doesn’t know him well.

Conversation and communication

Your child will ask for information by saying, ‘What’s that?’ She’ll answer questions. And she’ll understand the difference in your tone when you ask a question or make a statement, or when you’re positive or negative.

He’ll enhance words with gestures and tone of voice to make it easier for you to understand. He might use the same word to mean lots of different things, but with different gestures or tone. 

She’ll enjoy imitating the actions of people around her, and start to understand how to get attention from others by ‘showing off’. 

Children grow and develop at different rates. The information in this article is offered as a guide only. If you’re at all concerned about your child’s language development, speak with your doctor or child health nurse.
  • Last updated or reviewed 20-02-2012