12 months - 2.5 years

A mother and child looking at a book 12 Months

At 12 months your baby will be starting to...

  • Try to join in songs by ‘singing’ along
  • Babble strings of sounds to people and toys e.g., badamada
  • Look at you when you call their name
  • Use gestures like pointing and waving
  • Understand words like ‘up’ and ‘bye-bye’
  • Use the odd single word
  • Make noises to get your attention

Helpful hints

  • Use simple words to tell me what we’re doing.
  • Repeating words while we play with things or do everyday routines like nappy changing will help me learn new words.
  • Sing songs and nursery rhymes especially ones with actions- I love them!
  • Look at me when we are playing together. It helps me learn to look at you.
  • Copy the sounds I make like blowing raspberries and babbling. This helps me learn to talk.
  • I love to look at books. Let me hold them myself and look at what I am interested in.
  • I love to play with noisy toys, rattles, shakers or squeaky toys. They also help my listening.


18 months

At 18 months your child is likely to be starting to...

  • Understand simple questions and instructions e.g. Where’s granny?
  • Point to body parts and using simple gestures like waving
  • Use 10 or more words (these won’t always be clear)
  • Get your attention by pointing or making noises
  • Pretend to use real life things when playing, e.g., making tea
  • Copying new sounds and words they hear

A toddlerHelpful hints

  • Let me choose a toy or book so we can talk about things that interest me.
  • I don’t need a dummy when I am awake now. If I still have one, hide it from me or throw it away.
  • Get down to my level and face to face with me. Then I can look right at you when I’m talking.
  • Use everyday routines like bath time to give me new words. Repeating words helps me learn them.
  • I love to sing songs and rhymes, especially ones with actions.
  • If I say a word, add a bit more on. If I say ‘juice’, you say ‘more juice’. This will help me learn new words.


2 years

At 2 years your child will be starting to...

  • Understand around 100 words and simple instructions e.g., ‘get your shoes’
  • Use about 50 words. These won’t sound like real words because your child will mainly be using sounds like ‘p’, ‘b’, ‘m’ and ‘n’
  • Echo words they hear
  • Put words together to make little sentences e.g., ‘more drink’
  • Use up to two sequences in their play e.g., wash dolly then brush hair

Helpful hints

  • Give me a choice then I will have the chance to talk to you e.g., “juice or milk?”
  • Don’t worry if I say a word and it doesn’t sound right, just say it again in the right way. E.g., If I say “tat”’, you can say, “Yes, there is a cat”
  • Talk to me when we are doing everyday activities or routines like bath time. It is great when you use simple language and short sentences. E.g., “wash tummy” “wash face”.
  • I have difficulty switching my attention from my toys to your voice. Call my name before talking to me to help me pay attention to you.
  • When I am talking, try repeating what I say but with more words. e.g., I say “car”, then you could say, “Yes, there is a BIG, RED car”.


A child playing with a truck 2.5 years

At 2 and a half your child will be starting to

  • Learn new words everyday so that they have around 200-500 words they can use
  • Understand longer instructions of up to 2 key words e.g., ‘get a biscuit and your cup’
  • Watch other children playing and occasionally join in
  • Recognise the names and pictures of most common objects
  • Use two word and even three word sentences e.g., ‘eat mummy cake’

Helpful hints

  • I love looking at books. Sometimes I might just want to look at the pictures with you and miss pages out. This is fine - just talk about what I am interested in!
  • Unfamiliar adults may not be able to understand me all the time yet and I might get frustrated. Don’t worry –just keep repeating the words back correctly for me.
  • Talk to me in two and three word sentences. This will help me pick out the words I know.
  • I still have difficulty switching my attention from my toys to your voice. Call my name before talking to me to help me pay attention to you.
  • Keep adding words to what I say. So if I said, ‘mummy drink’, you could interpret what I mean and say ‘want mummy’s drink?’.