18-24 months

This is a guide to how children typically learn to talk and understand words between 18-24 months.

Children develop skills at different rates but by two years, usually children will: 

  • Concentrate on their own activities for longer, such as playing with a toy they like. 
  • Sit and listen to simple stories with pictures. 
  • Understand at least 200 words. 
  • Understand more simple questions and instructions. For example, ‘where is your shoe?’ and ‘show me your nose’. 
  • Understand simple action words (for example, ‘kiss teddy’ or ‘dolly sleep’). 
  • Copy sounds and words a lot. 
  • Say 50 or more single words, even though many of these are not very clear yet.  
  • Start to put short sentences together with 2-3 words, such as ‘more juice’ or ‘bye nanny’. 
  • Ask questions like ‘what’s that?’ or ‘Where going?’  
  • Make the sounds of familiar animals eg: ‘moo’ for cow. 
  • Enjoy pretend play with their toys, such as feeding teddy. 
  • Try out new things and explore the world around them more actively. They will often choose their own activities and may not always like being told what to do. 
  • Use a more limited number of sounds in their words than adults – often these sounds are p, b, t, d, m, n and w. Children will still make mistakes with how they say words at this stage. Families can usually understand their child about half the time. 
  • Sometimes get frustrated if people don’t understand them. 

Support children aged 18-24 months with their talking and understanding of words

Our Toddler Talk card pack promotes communication development for toddlers. Access a free sample or buy the pack below!
Take me to the shop

Things to look out for 

Some children struggle with learning to talk and understand words. Look out for: 

  • Children who are not able to follow simple instructions. 
  • Children who are not saying 25 recognisable words. 

If you notice any of these things, have a closer look at the child’s speech, language and communication skills using one of our free tools: 

Follow the process in your setting/workplace for raising concerns. This should include discussing your concerns with the child’s family and your SENCo. Statutory guidance is outlined in the SEND Code of Practice (2015). 

Further support

For tips on how you can support a child aged 18-24 months’ communication skills, have a look at some of our educator resources: