What Are 18-month-old Communication Milestones?

Speech Sisters
January 10, 2023

What Are 18-month-old Communication Milestones?

How do I know if my 18-month-old child is on track when it comes to communicating? What is a reasonable expectation? Are there specific activities I can do encourage more talking?

Such good questions! We understand that you want to give your little one a strong start, and we’re here for you every step of the way. Please use the following milestones as a general guideline to help you along the way.


  • Say at least 10 words
  • Point to wanted objects
  • Imitate a word after your model
  • Recognize names of familiar people and objects
  • Follow simple directions, such as “Go get the ball.”
  • Identify a few body parts

A milestone indicates what MOST children (approximately 90%) are doing at a given age. This information is a rough guide to help you gauge your child’s speech and language development. Remember, not every child is the same. Children reach certain skills at different ages, but they do develop in certain predictable ways, giving us some developmental milestones to help determine whether they’re on track or may need extra support and attention.

For a more comprehensive communication milestone guide, please check out our FREE Communication Milestones Checklist.

We’ve also created two online courses to help YOU know how to help your child meet their communication milestones. Learn more.


The number of words that speech therapists look for in 18-month-old children varies greatly. According to toddler talk, the range can be from 20 words to 200 words! Why is there such a big range?

Many speech professionals believe that some toddlers focus on communication while others spend their energy on developing motor skills. Some evidence suggests that boys tend to develop motor skills early on while girls focus on communication.

If you’d like to engage more actively in helping your toddler talk, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Use focused stimulation by naming the object or action over and over. The continual repetition of specific words will help your child remember.
  2. Use face-to-face communication. Your child will imitate your speech by observing what you’re doing with your mouth. For example:  Hold your child on your lap, facing you, and try to find your nose, mouth, eyes, etc.
  3. Ask fewer questions. Instead of asking questions, talk about what you’re doing by using statements. Rather than asking, “Are you hungry? Do you want an apple?” say, “It’s time for a snack! Let’s eat an apple!” If you do ask a question, be sure to answer it if your child doesn’t respond first.
  4. Follow your child’s lead in play, then introduce a new action to your play. For example, if he’s pushing his car along and making noises, you do the same. Then add a step: have your car go under a bridge or pass by a big truck.

IMPORTANT: If you’re concerned that your child may not be meeting speech and language milestones, we recommend following up with your pediatrician and an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist, who can assess your child’s receptive (listening/understanding) and expressive (talking/communicating) language skills. If it is determined that a delay is present, they will give recommendations on how to proceed with an early intervention treatment plan if needed.

To learn simple and effective strategies to help get your little one talking, check out our Talk on Track (newborn-14 months) and Time to Talk: Toddler Course (15-36 months). We’d love to equip you to experience the joy of your little one talking to you! If you’ve ever asked the question, “does my child need speech therapy?” you can check out our free 45-min webinar here!

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