Speech and Language Milestones: Between 2 and 3 Years Old

Speech and Language Milestones

  • Identifies body parts
  • Carries on ‘conversation’ with self and dolls/action figures/pretend play characters
  • Asks “what’s that?” And “where’s my?”
  • Uses 2-word negative phrases such as “no want”.
  • Forms some plurals by adding “s”; books, cars
  • Average 2-year-old has a vocabulary of 50 words and is putting two words together
  • By age 3, a child may have a 450-word vocabulary and putting three to four words together
  • Gives first name, holds up fingers to tell age
  • Combines nouns and verbs “mommy go”
  • Understands simple time concepts: “last night”, “tomorrow”
  • Refers to self as “me” rather than by name
  • Tries to get adult attention: “watch me”
  • Likes to hear same story repeated
  • May say “no” when means “yes”
  • Talks to other children as well as adults
  • Solves problems by talking instead of hitting or crying
  • Answers “where” questions
  • Names common pictures and things
  • Uses short sentences like “me want more” or “me want cookie”
  • Matches 3-4 colors, knows big and little

Activities to encourage child speech and language development

  • Repeat and expand phrases (child says, “more milk,” repeat and model “more milk please” or
  • Repeat new words over and over
  • Accept speech sounds that symbolize words and recognize parts of words (i.e. “e” for “see”  or “i e” for “ice cream”) and model back the correct word to the child
  • Take about daily activities
  • Ask simple questions and encourage answers giving choices (“do you want to color or read a book” as opposed to “yes/no” questions)
  • Read books daily, encourage story re-telling and completion of rhymes or phrase endings in books and songs
  • Follow instructions by playing games: “pick up the ball,” “Touch Daddy’s nose”
  • Pay attention / make eye contact while talking and listening
  • Describe what you are doing, planning, thinking as you are doing activities
  • Have the child deliver simple messages for you
  • Ask questions about daily activities
  • Show the child you understand what he or she says by answering, smiling, and nodding your head

Speech Development Warning Signs

Contact Speech Matters, LLC if your child demonstrates difficulty with:

  • Understanding verbal instructions without needing gestures
  • Imitating words frequently heard (echoing)
  • Sitting for 5 minutes of book reading
  • Having fewer than 20 – 50 words by age 2
  • Saying 2 – word or 3 – word combinations
  • Having fewer than 100 words by age 3
  • Vocabulary does not seem to be growing
  • Talking with or playing with peers or adults
  • Pretend play skills (e.g. feeding a doll)
  • Matching colors or pictures
  • Giving their name when asked
  • Understanding basic concepts (i.e. big / little, hot / cold)
  • Using “no” to reject something or protest
  • Using words to gain another’s attention
  • Self-vocalization during pretend play activities



Are you seeing some of the warning signs in your child’s speech and language development?

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