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Kids Language Development

Kids Language Development

From Baby's first word to the first time he strings together a complete sentence, there's a lot to look forward to as his speech and language advance. But it can be hard to know if your toddlers and preschoolers are making the right progress. "Every child develops on his own timeline, but the best way to help develop your baby's language skills is to simply talk to him,

Up until now, having a conversation with your child has been a pretty one-sided affair. But look out! Here comes a speech tsunami. Between the ages of 2 and 3, kids start picking up words faster than you can say "chatterbox." Just check out the stats: at age 2, most children know 20 to 200 words; by age 3, that number soars to about 1,000.

If you feel your child isn't developing at a steady pace, always consult your pediatrician for advice.


Age 1

Your little one is just beginning to communicate with you beyond crying. At this age, your baby should be able to:

Say a handful of words. Your toddler still has a limited vocabulary at this point, but you can help it grow by reading and talking to him every day, Dr. Briggs recommends. "At this age, the main concern is that baby's speech is 'mama' and 'dada' specific, meaning that when he says those two words he is actually referring to Mom and Dad -- not the cup or dog."


Age 2

This age is the magic number for knowing if a child is on track with speech or is a late talker. Around this period, your growing toddler should be able to:

Expand vocabulary. By 24 months, your child should be using about 50 words regularly, such as morejuice, and Grandma. "The year between 12 and 24 months is the most exciting year in terms of language development," Dr. Briggs says. "Your [tot] is having a vocabulary boost and should be repeating words she hears from you."

Link together words. You should also notice your little one putting together two-word sentences ("My ball" or "Car go"). But don't worry about pronunciation at this point -- only about 50 percent of what she says will be completely understandable.


Age 3

Your little one is developing into quite the chatterbox. By now, your preschooler should be able to:

Speak clearly in simple sentences. By the time preschool rolls around, you should easily understand what your kid says -- or at least 75 percent of it. "You can hold a conversation with a child this age where he asks you questions and tells you things that happened in his day," Dr. Briggs says.

String multiple words together. You'll be amazed at how your little one is talking in sentences made up of between three and six words. "They are complete sentences, but simple ones, such as 'Mommy is eating,


Age 4

You're officially in "big boy/big girl" territory now. Your child is growing in leaps and bounds, and her language is getting quite impressive. At this age, your child should be able to:

Speak clearly in more complex sentences. Your growing preschooler now has the ability to tell you an entire story -- such as the cool stuff she's doing at preschool -- and you can understand nearly every word of it. "By [the time your child is age] 4, even strangers should be able to understand what [she] is saying.

Follow more complex commands. At 4, your child should be able to follow three- or four-step commands, such as "Put your book away, brush your teeth, and then get in bed." Your child should also be able to verbalize her own wants and needs, making requests such as "I want pizza for dinner and I want to watch Toy Story before bed." Pediatricians and speech pathologists are always on the lookout for issues with receptive language, so if your child can't follow instructions or doesn't seem to understand what you're saying, consult the doctor right away.

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