December 4, 2023
Read time X min

Speech Milestone Charts For Toddlers 1-3 years (+ Language Development Pro Tips)

Let's look at ASHA's speech-language developmental milestones for toddlers 1 to 3 years old.

I'll give more context for each milestone, provide ASHA's 1-2 year and 2-3 year charts, and help with some pro tips on how to nurture your toddler's language skills!

A 7 year old boy who Heather Zortman helped with speech a sound disorder
Bravo Speech Therapy
Speech Sounds
Speech Milestone Charts For Toddlers 1-3 years (+ Language Development Pro Tips)

Welcome back to my series on speech-language developmental milestones!

If you thought your baby's first year was full of rapid changes, brace yourself: your toddler is now learning how to form sentences, ask questions, and more.

This is a pivotal time for honing in on vocabulary, comprehension, and communication skills.

Just as I've mentioned with the other ASHA milestones, I consider these to be a 'roadmap' that can guide you in understanding your toddler's growth and abilities.

Every child is unique and develops at their own pace.

That being said, staying informed about these developmental markers is important because early identification of speech and language issues leads to more effective intervention and a smoother path forward.

Let’s dive in!

Toddler 1-2 years | Speech Milestone Chart

A speech language development milestone chart for toddlers age 1-2 years, or 18 months. The ASHA milestones are listed, and there is a graphic of a parent reading to their toddler to show that they can listen to simple stories.

Hearing and Understanding (1-2 Years Old)

  • Points to a few body parts when you ask: Your child may point to their nose, eyes, or tummy when you ask them, "Where is your _____?" This shows growing vocabulary and understanding of body parts.
  • Follows 1-part directions: If you tell your child to "Roll the ball" or "Kiss the baby," they can understand and follow through, showing cognitive and language development.
  • Responds to simple questions: Your child can respond to questions like "Who's that?" or "Where's your shoe?" by pointing or vocalizing, which indicates growing comprehension.
  • Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes: This is a good indicator that your child is developing their listening and receptive language skills.
  • Points to pictures in a book when you name them: As you read together, your child can point to illustrations when you name them, showing their ability to link vocabulary words with images.

Talking (1-2 Years Old)

  • Uses a lot of new words: You'll notice your child's vocabulary expanding rapidly during this period, although you may not understand everything they try to say.
  • Puts 2 words together: Your child may start to form basic sentences like "more apple" or "no bed," but this occurs more toward the 2 year mark.
  • Starts to name pictures in books: While reading, your child can point and name familiar pictures.
  • Asks questions: Your child will start asking simple questions like "What's that?", "Who’s that?", and "Where’s kitty?" This curiosity indicates a developing intellect and increasing language skills.
  • Uses p, b, m, h, and w in words: Your child starts using these consonants in their vocabulary, demonstrating a growing sound repertoire.

Pro Tips | Babies 0-3 Months


1. Narrate your day. Use short words and sentences (with correct grammar). Using shorter phrases will allow your child to more easily imitate you. You can say, "Look at the bird. It says 'tweet tweet'. The bird is small. The bird is blue." 
2. Have fun with different sounds. During everyday activities such as outside play or bathtime. When you hear a car or an airplane outside, you can say "v-v-v" sounds. If you hear a dog barking, you can say "w-w-w" or "rrr-rrr". When blowing bubbles, you can say "b-b-b" and pop bubbles while making the "p-p-p" sound. 
3. Read to your child every day! During book reading you can ask your child what they see (even if they don't answer, you can provide the answer for them). Point to a cat in the story, then say, "your turn - point to the cat" encouraging them to do it. Reading to your child helps build their vocabulary words by exposing them to new phrases & expressions. It also helps strengthen their creativity & imagination, cognitive skills like problem solving, and emotional development by discussing the way each character feels.
4. Honor your child's communication attempts. Give your child the benefit of the doubt - assume that they are understanding you and trying to communicate (even when it may seem like they're not). For example, when your child is whining/grunting and reaching for a favorite snack on the top shelf, you can say "You're pointing to something you want and making sounds. I like when you tell me you want crackers. You can say 'I want crackers!'". Your child may not repeat you, but you're providing them with acknowledgment of their communication, showing that you heard them and value their attempts, and you're also providing them with an appropriate way to request! 

Toddler 2-3 Years | Speech Milestone Chart

A speech language development milestone chart for toddlers age 2-3 years. The ASHA milestones are listed, and there is a graphic of a parent busy cooking and their child asking them "why?" This is to show how toddlers this age love to ask "why".

Hearing and Understanding (2-3 Years Old)

  • Understands opposites: Your child starts to comprehend opposites like go–stop, big–little, and up–down, which helps them make sense of the world around them.
  • Follows 2-part directions: If you say something like "Get the spoon and put it on the table," your child can follow these more complex instructions, showing advanced comprehension skills.
  • Understands new words quickly: Children at this age are like sponges, soaking up new words rapidly, which aids in more advanced communication.

Talking (2-3 Years Old)

  • Has a word for almost everything: Your child’s vocabulary expands significantly during this period, enabling more specific communication.
  • Talks about things that are not in the room: This is a sign of developing abstract thinking as your child can now talk about things that are not immediately present.
  • Uses specific consonants: Your child begins using k, g, f, t, d, and n in words, which is a mark of expanding phonetic ability.
  • Uses words like 'in,' 'on,' and 'under': This shows a growing understanding of spatial relationships.
  • Forms 2-3 word sentences: Your child starts to put 2-3 words together to ask for things or talk about them, demonstrating improving sentence structure.
  • People who know your child can understand them: As your child’s articulation improves, they become more intelligible (understandable) to people who interact with them regularly.
  • Starts asking ‘Why?’: The endless "why" questions begin, indicating a curious mind eager to understand how things work.
  • Puts 3 words together: Your child can make small sentences, though they might sometimes repeat some words and sounds (stutter) which is very typical at this age.


1. Identify body parts and familiar objects. This will improve your toddler's understanding of the things around them. Use the classic Mr. Potato Head to put on and take off the eyes, nose, shoes, etc. Take turns finding each body part that you name. Similarly, using music is a fun way to learn body parts with the 'Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" song.

2. Early concepts:  colors, shapes, counting, opposites. During play and book reading, talk about what colors you see, "the ball is red", talk about it's shape, "the ball is a circle", count the number, "I-2-3-4-5! 5 balls!". Count and practice opposites while doing laundry with your child. Take clothes OUT of the washer and put IN the dryer. Count the items while you do it! 
3. Following directions. Strengthen your child's understanding by directing them to follow your commands. Give a 1-step command such as, "give me the toy" or 2-step command such as, "pick up the toy and put it in the basket". If they need help, demonstrate the skill for them. 
4. Give your child verbal (or visual) choices. This allows them some control and independence in their communication. For example, instead of asking, "Do you want milk?", ask, "Do you want milk or water?". Simplify if needed, "milk or water?" showing them both physical items (or a picture of each item) to help their understanding. Encourage them to verbalize the name of the item or point to the preferred picture to express their want.
5.  Pair written words with images. Write short & simple phrases underneath pictures. Write, "Happy Birthday Grandma" under a picture of grandma at her party, or write "I can swing" under a picture of your child swinging at the playground. This will help your child begin to understand that written words have meaning, fostering their early literacy skills.

What If Your Child Is Not On Track?

In my 15 years as a pediatric SLP, I've often chatted with parents who are both excited and a little anxious about this particular stage.

These toddler years are an explosion of speech and language development, and it's easy to feel a bit overwhelmed.

Your child has a strong desire to communicate their wants and needs during this 1-3 age range.

Sometimes they have difficulty expressing exactly what they want to say and aren't fully understood. This can cause communication frustration and consequently, tantrums!

A lot of parents believe that meltdowns happen because their child is being "naughty". And do you know what I've learned? No child is naughty. They are always trying to tell us something. Or they may be needing more help in understanding what's happening around them. 

If you are not seeing your child meet some of these milestones (or having frequent tantrums), they may need a boost from a speech therapist! Now is a great time, as their language is developing so rapidly.

The sooner any speech or language issues are identified, the smoother the road ahead will be for your child.


Case Study
Therapy Sneak Peek
Pro Tips

Frequently Asked Questions

Toddler Talking

My toddler stutters sometimes. Is this normal?

Yes, occasional stuttering (disfluent speech) can be a part of normal language development for toddlers as they learn to speak in more complex sentences. They have so many smart and creative thoughts running through their minds! However, if it persists, they appear aware of their disfluencies and it causes frustration, or is accompanied by other speech issues, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a speech-language pathologist.

Text Link

How can I help my toddler understand and express their feelings?

  • Use simple language to label your toddler’s emotions (“You’re happy because…”) and validate their feelings.
  • Picture books and stories are a great way to talk about different emotions.
  • You can teach simple signs or use pictures to help your child express different feelings.
  • Some children enjoy drawing their emotions on paper.
Text Link

How can I encourage my toddler to speak more?

Create plenty of opportunities for your child to talk during your everyday routines. Engage them in conversation, ask open-ended questions, and use a variety of words to describe things in the world around you.

Reading together and using play as learning time can be especially beneficial, and fun!

Text Link

My toddler isn’t talking as much as their peers. Should I be concerned?

While it’s normal for children to develop at their own pace, significant delays in speech and language development should not be ignored. If your toddler uses fewer words than most children their age, doesn’t make eye contact, doesn’t understand simple instructions, or isn’t combining words to make sentences, it may be beneficial to consult with an SLP.

Text Link

What are the typical speech and language milestones for toddlers aged 1-3?

Children experience an exciting language burst between the ages 18 months-3 years, with two-word sentences (“Daddy go”) beginning to emerge around age 2. By age 3, most toddlers can use sentences of at least 3 words or more, understand simple instructions, and be understood by familiar adults most of the time.

Text Link