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How Many Words Can a Two Year Old Say?

Hi! I was just wondering how many words a child around the age of two is able to say? My son is 20 months old and I just want to make sure he is on track (he doesn't say much). I know he understands everything. I am wondering if he just finds it easier to use other means of communicating (pointing). Also, have any moms out there had this problem only to find that they catch up when they are ready? He is my first and I try not to worry but it is hard!

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My daughter will be 2 next week...they grow up so fast huh? :-) She has been talking forever it seems like...hasnt stopped once since she started! She has just started putting sentances together like "Daddy eat all food gone gone!".
I know my friends son doesnt speak as much as my daughter and they found out that he needed tubes in his ears. He would point and "whine" for whatever he needed/wanted. Now that he has had tubes put in he is like a new little boy! He now talks more and I know hears better...another plus no more ear infections!
Ya know though, all kids are different and go at their own pace. If he is in daycare or around other children that would pro help him speak more also :-)
Good Luck!

My daughter is a talkaholic, if she knows you. My youngest brother on the other hand, wouldn't speak in sentences more than five words until he was five. He understood things perfectly, but just preferred to have his own language until then. Some kids are just quieter than others.

My daughter, who is one of the brightest women I know was a slow tlker. I discovered, when I made her mad a few times that she could talk at about 18 months. She apparently didn't care to communicate. When she started there was no baby talk just straightforward speech. She was basically a quiet, super creative child. Don't worry ..my other child who was the chatter box didn't walk until he was about 2 years old. Then he ran.

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LOL, we hear what the "average" is and worry our child is below par when they don't do things when the "average" child does. My mom tells me she didn't start talking until she was THREE, but then it was in complete sentences. My son is 17 months and only started walking about a month ago. He also says a couple words, but nothing like "talking." Part of that is likely because he's the first child - later kids will pick it up quicker because they have someone at their level to observe, and they'll hear more conversation than your first child gets. I guess the main thing is to trust that moderate delays are nothing to be concerned about, because you know your child better than anyone else and will know if there is a serious problem. Generally they're noticeable.

This reminds me of a joke I heard when I was younger: A couple had a son who had never spoken. He was healthy and smart and was on-target developmentally in every other area, so ultimately they decided their son was mute and they just accepted that. One day at dinner, when he was about 8 years old, the boy said, "Please pass the salt." Astonished, the father asked, "You've been quiet all these years. Why is this the first time you've spoken?" "Well, up 'til now, everything was perfect."

Meaning kids will speak when they have a reason to, a reason all their own. :) Hang in there! I'm working at being patient too and not falling into the trap of thinking my child needs to be "average".

2 moms found this helpful

Our oldest son did not really truly talk until age 3. At age 2 he said just enough to be in the "normal" range...it wasn't much compared to so many of my friends' kids. About age 3 he started talking. A LOT. And he hasn't stopped since. :) My girls talked much earlier. Then we adopted a son. He is 21 months now and is just now beginning to talk. However, like you said, he understands everything we say to him. It happens, just a little slower for some. And I can promise you it is no indication of intelligence or future success if they talk earlier or not...

1 mom found this helpful

Your son should be talking like crazy by now. If you know he can hear you and understand everything you are saying then stop letting him point at things and make him say the words. My son started doing this and I would tell him to say the word and I would give him what he is asking for. Example: He would see a cookie and would point and grunt at it and I would tell him to say cookie and would give it to him. He learned real quick if he wanted something he better start talking and asking for it and not point and make noises. This is only if you know your son is hearing you just fine and understanding you with no problems.

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K.,

My little boy is 21 months old and he doesn't speak much either. I think girls are faster in this area than boys, but that's just my opinion.

My son will say, "Momma, Da-da, bye-bye and ba-ba (bottle)" consistently, but won't say much else. On occasion he will mimic things he hears (one time he tried to say "love you."

When he makes a new sound or tries a new word, we give him lots of positive feedback and encouragement. We know he understands LOTS of words - so its only a matter of time.

It will happen and (probably) when you least expect it (in the middle of the grocery store at the top of his lungs!)

Patience.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi! My son was a very late talker- really didn't start talking in sentences until he was 2 1/2- and we thought he would start when he was 2, but the birthday came and went, and still not much- He always wanted to make sound effects to vehicles and animals, but not as interested in talking. He is super active, always running and climbing and once he started doing those things after his 1st birthday- his language development just went on hold. But now he's almost 3 1/2 and he is a chatterbox. Talking non-stop all day long, and I remember wishing for those moments when he was little....and when he's super chatty all day long, I remember the moments before he started talking and how much I longed for him to start talking. My pediatrician just told me not to worry about it, (I started scanning the autism checklists and worry) but he was always connected to us emotionally and affectionate and smiling- but I would still worry that something was wrong. Just give him time- and talk to him about everything throughout the day- even if you feel like a narrator of your life... he will eventually start talking! I promise!

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A typical 2-year-old has a vocabulary of about 50 words, although some have many more. Personally, my girls had much larger vocabulary and talked much more than my boy. My son is 4 and still doesn't talk as much as the girls, although he knows words, he is just a quieter child and that is his personality.

If you are really worried ask your pediatrician, there are many programs for early intervention and most are free. If he is developmentally behind, early intervention can get him on track.

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I have a son and a godson that are 6 days apart and both turned 2 in Oct. My son has been speaking full sentences since about 21 months, but my godson was barely saying mama and dada at his first birthday. He knew a total of maybe 5 words. The difference is that my son has 2 older siblings to catch up to and my godson is the first baby. Well about a month ago(about 26 months old) my godson suddenly caught up to my son and is saying full sentences. Every kid learns at their own pace. I would say you shouldn't worry even a little bit about your lil one not saying much at 20 months. He'll get there. Just wait it out. Oh and don't use "baby talk" with him. Just talk to him like he's one of the adults in the house and he'll catch on. You're doing a good job mama!

A.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.,
Let me tell you my story. My first child, a son; even at age 3 was saying just a few things. His means of communications would be to point and make a grunting noise. If he wanted juice, milk etc. Well obviously I was concerned. On his 3rd birthday I took him to our family doctor. Our family doctor was very helpful in telling me that my son did this because I allowed it. He gave me a few places to take parenting classes to help me learn to teach him a different method. The classes were great. Instead of allowing my son to point and make grunting noises rather I taught him to say what he wanted, and I would not get it for him until he did. See my son was not mentally challenged. Just his mommy did EVERYTHING for him (being a first time mom, this happens) in as little as a few weeks, he was asking for things. I'm telling you the classes really taught me allot. I had another son 22 months after the birth of my first son. I used these same techniques with him and I promise he hasn't stopped talking, lol sometimes I wish he would. HOPE this helps. Good Luck!!

A two year old will say however many words it takes to get their point across. you cannot always gauge a child's development by how many words they speak at this age. Think of it this way:
The old saying - Children are like sponges - is true. Some absorb more than others and always at a different pace. Show me 2 kids in any local toddler Daycare that are on the same level developementally and i will show you a whole reptile petting zoo that flies!
GIve your son some time. Speak to him like a big boy and he will catch on to our language. Might as well get used to his uniqueness now. i am a first time mommy of an 18 month daughter and even i am preparing myself for the explosion of creative expressive speech and behavior that will mold her into who she already knows she will be...
They know more about what's going on than we do. We're the one's learning from them.

I really don't think you need to worry at 20 months! All kids advance at different things at a different pace, but at 20 months I'm sure he is fine :D

My daughter started with a few basic words at about 20 months and then stopped for a month. I then stopped responding to her pointing and signing and asked her to "use your words" and acted like I didn't understand what she was pointing at.

Her 2nd birthday was last week and she can put together sentences really well now and is expressing herself alot more. She can count to 18 and sing most of her ABC's. Its been a flood of understanding the last 3 weeks out of nowhere, something in her brain just kicked it into gear.

Sometimes she shuts down and focus' on learning something else really hard for a week or so (like dressing herself) and dosen't talk as much, and thats just a part of it.

I read to her daily and talk to her like a adult, describing what I'm doing, ask her what shes doing, ask her questions... and she responded when she was ready, but you cant "make" that shift happen, but yea, I know its hard not to worry when you think they should be doing something ;-)

Reduce the background noise in his environment (tv, music). Also, talk to him a lot, but not just a barrage - make it a good give and take.

Spend 1/2 an hour every day of good, exclusively 1-on-1 time with him (either your or your husband, but not both - you want him to develop a good focus, so less is more; you and your husband can take turns from one day to the next, if you wish). During this playtime, let him choose his toys and don't try to direct or prolong his attention on any thing or any action. You follow *his* focus of attention, and talk about what he is looking at/playing with. This gives him words for what he is most interested in, which is by far the best way for him to learn.

Don't try to get him to repeat sounds (like, "can you say 'ball'? Balll?"). Instead, repeat his sounds! Make it fun!

You will notice a huge improvement within a couple of weeks.

I got this from Babytalk by Dr. Sally Ward, a speech therapist who developed the Babytalk program, which has been studied extensively. They've followed babies and young children for years and found that babies/toddlers who were even severely behind, who went through the program with their parents, almost across the board became far happier, more social, and markedly brighter than their peers. Get it from your library or buy a copy!

L.

Hi K.,
My almost 3 yr old girl would point at about 18 mos, but I realized she could talk when she wanted and started telling her to Tell me what she wants/needs-Example:
"Do you want your Bottle? Can you say 'Milk' or 'Bottle'?" She would try and say what ever I asked if she could say -just to try it out I think :-).
It really got her vocabulary off the ground. Now she's like a little parrot and tells me what happens in Mother's Day Out-she has a Great Memory.
Her Dad didn't really talk at all till he was about 3 and his Mom said he started using complete sentences all of a sudden...your boy might do that :-).
I hope this helps,
C

Hey K., no worries, i had one child that talked in full sentences at 14 months and one that didn't talk till he was 2 1/2. he was also very good at letting you know what he wanted but eventually we had to refuse to give him things until he said them. He was VERY strongwilled...LOL...once we refused without him talking he talked very plain and in full sentences. My grandson didn't talk till he was 2 then did in full sentences and my granddaughter is following the same pattern. He'll talk when he's ready or has something he wants to say or when you insist. LOL...have fun R.

My daughter will be 2 next week...they grow up so fast huh? :-) She has been talking forever it seems like...hasnt stopped once since she started! She has just started putting sentances together like "Daddy eat all food gone gone!".
I know my friends son doesnt speak as much as my daughter and they found out that he needed tubes in his ears. He would point and "whine" for whatever he needed/wanted. Now that he has had tubes put in he is like a new little boy! He now talks more and I know hears better...another plus no more ear infections!
Ya know though, all kids are different and go at their own pace. If he is in daycare or around other children that would pro help him speak more also :-)
Good Luck!

Each child develops at different paces. Doctors will tell you that a child at 2 should clearly say over 100 words and steadily increase their vocabulary monthly. In my family, my daughter is the more vocal one only because we did not allow her to point at things and grunt to get what she wanted. We told her what the object was called several times and then had her say it (or attempt to say it) before she could have it. By the age of 2, her pediatrician put her at a 4 year old level on vocabulary as well as other areas of development. My niece and nephew were behind the grade at the age of 2, but both made huge leaps in vocabulary the next year and are about on track now. Encourage your son to talk more and point less. He'll get angry when things don't go the usual way, but it's better for his learning in the long run. And don't worry; he'll pick up so many words that soon you'll be asking him to stop talking for a while. :)
J.

My daughter, who is one of the brightest women I know was a slow tlker. I discovered, when I made her mad a few times that she could talk at about 18 months. She apparently didn't care to communicate. When she started there was no baby talk just straightforward speech. She was basically a quiet, super creative child. Don't worry ..my other child who was the chatter box didn't walk until he was about 2 years old. Then he ran.

My daughter is a talkaholic, if she knows you. My youngest brother on the other hand, wouldn't speak in sentences more than five words until he was five. He understood things perfectly, but just preferred to have his own language until then. Some kids are just quieter than others.

you didn't mention if he has had any trouble with ear infections. my son had ear infections resulting in tubes at 13 months. he has been in speech for 2 years and is still 1 year behind according to the 'experts'. the ent told us that during his crucial time for speech development, he heard words as if he were under water. i know he'll catch up, but in the mean time, it's very concerning.

All kids are different. My adopted daughter, who was a premie, talked in full sentences by the age of 2. We were told because of delays, to make sure we did not talk baby talk and not to accept hand language or pointing. It worked for us. I think they should have pretty good vocal skills by 2, but of course, not perfect. Just to do not do the talking for him. I also read a lot to her. She still loves reading and to be read to, and she is now 12.

S. Miller

Hi K.,
I have a grandson who is going to be 4 on the 27th of this month. He was speaking in full sentences by the age of 2. He even has a YouTube video where he is talking.

His older brother on the other hand did not speak much at all.

How much do you talk to him as a "person" instead of a little one? We talk to Loren just like an adult and he is very mature and has been since around 14 months old.

Have fun carrying on a one-sided adult conversation with your son and see how much fun it can be. My husband talks Calculus and Algebra to our 5 grandkids and they love it!

Enjoy and quit worrying!

I understand what you mean! My daughter is now 27 months and talks like crazy and I understand the majority of what she is saying as well. But just a few months ago...maybe around the 20 month mark, I was concerned as well. She struggled with ear infections for almost the whole first year of her life and got tubes at 11 1/2 months. They fell out after only 3 months and I worried that maybe she couldn't hear. Her language seemed to blossom overnight!
I think it is very true when dr's say that they will pick one skill and master that and not focus on another skill til later! If your chld understands what you are saying and is getting his needs met thru pointing and whatever, I think he is totally normal! Just keep on doing what you are doing and repeat all of his needs through words and your son will be talking nonstop in no time. Maybe to the point you wish he wouldn't atlk sometimes! lol
Hope this reassures you!

K.,
Our first child was a son who spoke almost like an adult by 20 months. He could recite 24 nursery rhymes word for word before our daughter was born when we was 23 months old. I credit that to the fact that we read to him from day one. Our son catered to her so much (he simply adored her) that all she had to do was point and he gave her anything that was her heart's desire. We finally had to stop the pointing and force her to ask for what she wanted. It didn't take long before she, too, was speaking very well. Good luck with your little one!! Enjoy them. They grow up way too fast. Mine are 27 and 25 now.

quite a few some you can understand some you can't but if he is pointing to get things and you don't make him say what he wants he will point instead just ignore his pointing and he should tell you what he wants if pointing doesn't work don't use sign language or point at things and no baby talk talk to him more often cause he doesn't have any brothers or sisters to learn from good luck

Be careful what you wish for. :) My son was very much the same, although when he was in the mood he could say several words very clearly. Finally, we started making him "tell us with your words" and refused to respond to grunts and pointing. He is now almost 3 and NEVER stops talking. Get ready, it will happen before you know it.

Hi K.,

I had three kids - 2 girls followed by our son. The girls were pretty quick, but my son didn't start talking until he was about 3 1/2 and then it was in complete sentences. It was as if he was storing the knowledge and used it when he was ready.

Using children's educational programs and reading to him on a regular basis will also be of benefit.

Hope that helps,
~V~

I have had both ends of the spectrum. My first (a girl) talked like crazy and was putting together sentences by 20 months. My second child (also a girl) clearly understood and actually used a lot of single words as she approached her 2nd birthday, but no word combinations. I think the standard expectation is that they BEGIN to put words together (into 2 and 3 word sentences) around their second birthday. I was, of course, worried about the second one since she was so different from the first. My pediatrician suggested that I stop responding to non-verbal communication and encourage her to use words. He also suggested that I model short sentences. -Like, when you are driving somewhere say, "Mommy is driving. Mommy drives." While my first one didn't need that kind of modeling, my second did. Within about a month, I couldn't get that kid to be quiet!! :<)

my son will be 2 in feb and he talks non stop. he is putting 3-4 word sentences together. your son isnt behind per say just needs some encouragement i have 6 yr old twin boys and they were big talkers too but we would ask them questions or talk to them in a way that they would need to answer us and if they pointed or grunted then we would tell them to use their words and would not give them what they wanted until they could ask for it. if he understands what you are saying then he can say it to obviously it may not be comepletely clear to understand but he should be able to say it good enough you as the parent can understand him. make a fun game out of it my kids loved that just a little encouragement and you will be remembering the good old days when he didnt talk so much! lol good luck!

I've got a great website that will give you a ton of information about what kids can do at all ages. It is www.nncc.org. It is the National Network for Child Care, and it has a free database that has info on everything from what to expect for language, to potty training tips, to just about whatever you need. In my job, I use it a lot to give resources to families and daycares.
If you are looking just for a checklist on what to expect for language at your child's age, try http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/speechandlanguage.a.... Look under where is says "speech developmental milestones." It has interactive parent checklists based on your little one's age, and basically states how many words your child can understand, say, etc. I wish these resources were available when my kids were smaller! Have a wonderful day, and good luck!

K.,

What a great mom you are for paying attention to your son and asking questions while he is young. I will encourage you to continue to monitor your son's progress with language. I am the mother of three boys. My youngest is autistic (high functioning). He did not talk in sentences and had very few words. We received our diagnosis when he was 3 years, 7 months old. We would have better served him to have him evaluated when he was 21 months to two years old. We have come far with him and he now talks, not as well as a now four year old should, but he does communicate. The sooner one has a diagnosis, the better a chance to pull them through the window to recovery.

You need to go to the CDC website to see the checklist of what is "average" for children. In addition to speech, there are other clues to autism that your son may or may not exhibit. You need to check it out.

A pediatrician, BTW, CANNOT diagnose autism...only pediatric neurologists and psychologists. Follow your gut feelings on this question you have...it may make a huge difference....while the posts here in general tell you not to worry, you need to make sure...there are other details not in your e-mail for any of us to say whether you should worry or he will be fine. Please go to websites and look at the other symptoms for autism.

Best of luck!

The average vocabulary for a two-year-old is about 300 words expressively and perhaps more receptively. There are many variants so don't put your child on a scale of averages to try to decide where he should be versus where he is. Boys may understand as much as girls but just choose not to talk as long as they are understood. If he is an only child he may have less reason to talk since he is understood by his gestures, etc. I would not be concerned at this point.

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