When should my toddler start talking?

May 18, 2023

When should my child begin talking and how many words should they be using?

As a parent, you would have a lot of questions and concerns about your child's language development. I also believe this comes from us, as proficient communicators, knowing how important communication is. if you couldn't have your message understood or your wants and needs met, you would feel very frustrated.

You might be asking yourself, should my child be talking more? Does she understand what I am saying? What even counts as a word? Jenny’s kid was talking so much more at the park today, what is typical?

So, how does your child learn language… by MODELLING!

When you interact with your child they begin communicating in the early days by babbling (making sounds and stringing these together), this eventually turns into words, the words get combined and then we have sentences. Lets go back to the words for a minute though, because ‘what counts as a word’ is not just a perfectly pronounced word in the exact form its modelled… words can be:

  • exclamations (e.g., “uh-oh”)

  • animal sounds

  • word approximations (e.g., "duh" for dog, "uh" for up)

  • key word sign 

All of the above counts as a word, however, there is one slight catch.. they must be used consistently, independently, and intentionally to be considered a word. 

So, maybe reflect on a word your child uses (any of the above types) and ask yourself, do they use this word often? can they produce the word by themself? do they use it in the right context and know what it means?


How many words should your child be using?

It is a good idea to be familiar with milestones for the expected range of words children should be using at a given age.

Please remember, all children will be different, variation is expected to be seen with this.

What is the expected range? An expected range is the amount of words considered developmentally appropriate for a child’s age.

The table below highlights children’s ages and the amount of words they should be using. (These numbers are derived from the standardised norms from The MacArthur-Bates Assessment (2007).



If your child is meeting the requirements in the chart above, they are most likely on track. However, if your child is two or three and meeting the minimum amount of words highlighted above, providing them with support to expand this number of words would be highly beneficial.

My mission is to educate parents about communication milestones. This will assist them to be proactive in their child’s development and provide them with the best possible start to life.


What do I do if my child is below or only just meeting the milestone? BE PROACTIVE!

If you have read this and thought, “my child is only just meeting that minimum amount”, or “my child is on the lower end of that range”, or “my child is not quite meeting that”… it is very important that you act sooner rather than later. Some kids will catch up, however lots end up falling behind their peers and having later academic difficulties when they reach school.

Parents are the most important people in a child’s life, therefore, if you equip yourself with the tools you need to build their communication skills, you can have a massive impact.

That is why I developed my online course, Talking Tots

This course teaches you specific evidence based strategies to build your child’s speech and language skills at home. The best part, you don't have to sit down and do structured activities, you build it all into daily routines and activities you are already doing.

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