Speech, language and communication for toddlers

Talking is one of the most important life skills your child will learn. Everyone’s journey is different but if you’re a parent in Oldham, there’s plenty of support and information available to help you and your child on their way to great communication.

By the time your toddler is between 18 months and 3 years old, they can normally understand between 200 and 500 words. By age 2, they can usually understand simple questions and instructions, string short sentences together like “bye mummy”, while enjoying pretend play with toys. They’ll also copy sounds and words and listen to simple stories with pictures.

By age 3, they should be able to ask lots of questions, make short sentences and understand longer instructions, like “where’s mummy’s coat?” They might shorten longer words and struggle to make certain sounds like “sh”. It’s perfectly normal if your child appears to stammer at this age – it’s usually because they’re trying to share their ideas before their language skills have caught up.

How you can help your child learn

There’s lots you can do such as reading stories together and talking about everyday activities, like putting away the shopping, to help them connect language with actions. You could also expand on what a child says, for example if they say “juice”, you could say “more juice” to help them put together sentences. Then you can add words, for example if your little one say’s “dolly’s hair”, you could say, “brush dolly’s hair”.

Things to look out for

Learning to talk is a gradual process and every child’s language develops at a different speed. Some might need extra help, so it’s useful to know what’s typical to help spot any issues.  You should get help from a speech and language therapist if:

  • your child points or shows what they want rather than says it;
  • they only say single words instead of joining words together into short sentences;
  • they are slow to respond to your instructions;
  • they rely on being shown what to do rather than being told.

You should be concerned if by age 2 they are slow to follow simple instructions and can’t say 25 recognisable words.

What to do if you’re concerned

If your toddler attends a childminder or nursery, you could chat to their key worker about your concerns and they can work with you to make an action plan. Ask them to help you go through the Well Comm toolkit  

If they don’t attend, you can get advice from the Right Start team at your local Family Hub or Children’s Centre.

If you are worried about your child’s stammering, there’s a charity that offers information and support. Visit Stamma

Some helpful sites

Mother and toddler playing