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Look Who's Talking!

You're used to hearing your child babble and say what sound like whole sentences in a foreign tongue. But now that she's 1, her language development will take off. What to expect:

  • 1 YEAR Kids this age understand dozens of words and can usually say two or three. Typical firsts: names of people or objects heard often ("Mama," "Dada," "ball") or social words ("hi," "bye"). You'll know that your child is speaking intentionally and not just babbling if she uses a term in context¬†¬†-- such as exclaiming "doggy!" when Fido trots by.

    She may drop the ends of words and substitute sounds she can't say for ones she can, such as "b" for "t." To help undo this tendency, repeat her mangled words correctly: When she says "baba," you reply, "Here's your bottle."

  • 13 To 18 Months By 18 months, toddlers comprehend around 100 words and say anywhere from 10 to 50. (Firstborns and girls tend to talk more and have larger vocabularies.) Their lexicon will consist mostly of nouns as well as a few directional words ("up"), verbs ("go"), and adjectives ("hot"). They'll also start to make animal sounds, such as "meow" and "woof, woof."

  • 18 Months To 2 Years "Kids this age are vacuum cleaners for language, so vocabulary grows rapidly," says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., coauthor of How Babies Talk: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life. Most 2-year-olds understand hundreds of words and can speak about 100. But the learning curve may be uneven: Your child might say nine new words one day, then not utter another new one for a month.

    She probably knows the names of some of her body parts as well as "me" and "no." She can also put together simple two-word statements or questions, such as "Cat, no"; "Mommy, go"; or "What that?" She'll no longer babble or speak in a foreign tongue, as these rudimentary forms of communication have given way to the real thing.

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