our everyday life

When Do Children Speak Two-Word Sentences?

by Melinda Kedro

Your child's journey toward language acquisition is an exciting time during his early years of development. From waiting to hear what his first word will be to wondering when he will start forming complete verbal thoughts, every speech milestone is a celebration for involved parents and family members. Language acquisition is a gradual process that begins through imitation and transitions into independent use of words by your toddler.

Before 2: Word Phrases Emerge

According to Laura Mize, pediatric speech-language pathologist of TeachMeToTalk.com, children generally have acquired 35 to 50 regularly used words in their vocabulary before they begin to form two-word phrases. Keep a recorded list of the words your 1-year-old uses on his own. Mize also emphasizes that children need to have a wide variety of words as a part of their vocabulary prior to speaking two-word combinations. Social words such as "hi" and "bye," requesting words like "more" and "done," verbs like "run" and "nap," early pronouns such as "I" and "you," prepositions such as "up" and "here," negation like "no" and "don't," and adjectives like "yucky" or "hot" are all essential to your toddler making the leap to two-word phrases.

Milestones of Talking

By the age of 18 months, your toddler should begin to master the use of sounds "T," "D,"N" "W" and "H." According to BabyCenter.com, learning to make these specific sounds opens the door to forming new words and marks a pivotal transition for your child's speaking abilities. WhatToExpect.com postulates that between the ages of 18 and 24 months, your toddler will begin to form simple two-word sentences. By the age of 2, these two-word combinations can be used as questions.

Ways to Assist Your Child

Being eager to support your child in his early language acquisition skills is a natural process for many parents. One way to assist your child is by refraining from finishing his sentences or interrupting him when he's attempting to speak. Try to avoid using baby talk with your developing toddler. This can hinder his ability to imitate what sounds and words actually sound like. Narrate events while they are occurring; for example, describe out loud what you're doing while preparing dinner. Respond to your child's words with words of your own and ask your child questions to prompt responses.

If You Suspect a Delay

According to BabyCenter.com, there are several signs to watch for regarding your child's language use and development. Your child could be experiencing a language delay or hearing problem if he has not said any words, made babbling sounds or is unable to point to objects by 12 months of age. If your child does not respond to his name or you cannot understand any of his words by 18 months, this could be cause for concern. Between 19 and 24 months, if your child hardly ever attempts to imitate others and doesn't show frustration when he is not understood, there could be a language delay. If your child is not using two-word phrases by the age of 2.5, bring it up with his pediatrician.

About the Author

With more than 10 years experience in early childhood education, Melinda Kedro holds a Masters degree in education, teaching certification through the Association Montessori Internationale and is a licensed childcare provider through the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images