Growing Vocabulary

A "vocabulary burst" often happens before a child's 2nd birthday, but all children are different and some may not experience this huge growth in the words they say until many months later.

Once a child knows about 50 words, she or he will probably start saying new words quicker than you can count!

Grammar and Conversations

Most 2 year olds start to put words together to form sentences.

A sentence for a small child can be as short as two words long.  If a child says things like, "Mommy help" and "drink milk", they are showing you that they know how to combine nouns and action words to communicate what they want.

This is a very exciting time because the child is starting to figure out the complicated world of grammar!


Your child may be starting to experiment with different types of words, often using them much differently than an adult would.  Their experimental langauge tells you that the child is absorbing what they hear other people saying.  Don't worry if some of their sentences do not make sense to you.  Nonsense sentences are common, especially when the child is playing by his or herself.


When you're talking to your two year old, it is probably difficult to keep her or his attention on a topic for very long.  Children at this age should be able to have a short conversation about a topic that they're interested in - answering your questions and telling you more information about the topic.  When they are talking with other children, however, converstaion topics may change every time each child speaks.


Following Directions

Even if a child doesn't start talking as quickly as other children his or her age, they should be able to prove that they understand what you say by following simple directions.


Communicating to Meet Needs and Wants

Two year olds are usually able to let you know what they want by using words.

If they are unsuccessful, they can repeat what they have said, use gestures to get their point accross (such as pointing), or take you by the hand to show you what they mean.

The two year old child will probably not have much success rewording their sentence to help you understand what they are trying to tell you.

Speech Clarity

Between a typical child's 2nd and 3rd birthdays, his or her langauge becomes more and more clear to listeners.

By the time your child turns 3, strangers will probably be able to understand most of what she or he says.


Two year olds begin to play with toys in symbolic and imaginative ways.  For example, she or he might pretend that a large cardboard box is a car, or hold a banana up to their ear and speak into it like a telephone.

By the child's third birthday, they will probably be able to act out make-believe scenes with other children or with toys.


Concerned that your child is not meeting these milestones as expected?  Click here to read about red flags in communication development.