At age eighteen months (one and a half years), your child should:
- Use 20 to 50 words, including names of family
- Use words to express wants or needs, such as "more"
- Follow simple commands
- Enjoy rhythm and like to "dance" to music
- Understand "no" and withdraw appropriately
- Make some animal and motor sounds
- Give an object on request
- Show lots of affection -- especially to parents
- Listen to and discriminate between many sounds
- Understand simple questions such as "Where is your nose?"
You can stimulate the speech and language development of your child by:
- Talking to your child as you care for him or her throughout the day
- Singing songs and telling nursery rhymes
- Taking your child with you to new places and new situations
- Reading colorful books to your child
- Imitating your child's movement and vocalizations
- Teaching the names of everyday items and familiar people
- Using short words with your child
- Rewarding and encouraging early efforts at producing new words
- Providing social activities that allow for your child to interact with peers
Some specific activities are:
- Play games with your child to locate objects and name location. While in the kitchen cooking dinner, as questions like, "Where is the milk?" or "Where is the fork?"
- Ask your child the name of more common objects. Since this is the age when your child begins using more words, ask to see if he/she knows the word. If the child doesn't respond, tell the name and then ask again, "What is that?"
- Take advantage of exposing your child to different settings. Name things for your child and name actions that go along with the activity. For example, when your child is climbing up the slide at the playground or in the back yard, you may say "Slide, Mary slide. Mary, climb up." Then, as she comes down, verbalize that action to your child, "Down".
- Use a doll or picture book to locate body parts on yourself and your child and the doll. You can use a song such as "Where is Thumbkin?" and substitute words of "Where is Mommy's nose?" or "Where is baby's nose?" This allows not only for recognition of body parts, but also for following an instruction with more information.
- Play a game of "Potato Head" with your child. Put all the pieces on the floor, but out of your child's reach. Have your child request either the name or the part desired or "more" before you give him/her part to put into the body. You can do this with many toys. This teachers your child that he/she must use language to request.
If you are concerned that your child may not be developing these skills as he or she should, you may seek the advice of a speech-language pathologist.