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How many words should my child say?

A common question many parents ask is “How many words should my child be saying?” There is a range and that range is vast, so this can be a hard question to answer! Also, we always want to take into account the entirety of a child’s development (e.g., motor milestones, cognition), rather than thinking solely about language and communication, when deciding if they are developmentally on track. When considering the number of words a child is expected to have at various ages, there is a milestone number to consider, as well as an average number to keep in mind. The milestone most children produce at that age. The average number shows what 50% of children are able to produce at that age. The following are milestones and averages for the number of words children have between the ages of 12 months- 3 years old. 12 months

  • Milestone: 1 word

  • Average: 5 words +

18 months

  • Milestone: 10 words

  • Average: 50+ words

24 months

  • Milestone: 50 words

  • Average: 300+ words and combining 2 words

36 months

  • Milestone: 250 words

  • Average 1000+ words and combining 3 word

If a child is not meeting a milestone for their given age it is recommended that the family reach out to a speech therapist who specializes in early language development. The speech therapist will be able to do a comprehensive evaluation of the ways in which a child is communicating (i.e., using gestures, vocalizing, producing true words) and then provide guidance as to whether speech therapy would be helpful at that time. The Infant Toddler Checklist is a free tool you can use to learn more about your child’s communication.

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