Communication Milestones: 2 to 3 Years

These communication milestones cover hearing, speech, and language development in children.

Each child develops uniquely, even within the same family, and may meet certain milestones earlier or later than others. If your child does not meet many of the milestones within their age range, visit ASHA ProFind to find an ASHA-certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist (SLP) for an assessment.

What should my child be able to do?

  • Uses word combinations often but may occasionally repeat some words or phrases, like baby – baby – baby sit down or I want – I want juice.11, 38, 25
  • Tries to get your attention by saying, Look at me!26, 20
  • Says their name when asked.26, 20
  • Uses some plural words like birds or toys.38
  • Uses –ing verbs like eating or running. Adds –ed to the end of words to talk about past actions, like looked or played.38
  • Gives reasons for things and events, like saying that they need a coat when it’s cold outside.43, 26, 20
  • Asks why and how.26, 20
  • Answers questions like “What do you do when you are sleepy?” or “Which one can you wear?”20
  • Correctly produces p, b, m, h, w, d, and n in words.1
  • Correctly produces most vowels in words.34
  • Speech is becoming clearer but may not be understandable to unfamiliar listeners or to people who do not know your child.2

What can I do to help?

  • Use short words and sentences. Speak clearly.
  • Repeat what your child says and add to it. If they say, Pretty flower, you can say, “Yes, that is a pretty flower. The flower is bright red. It smells good, too. Do you want to smell the flower?”
  • Let your child know that what they say is important to you. Ask them to repeat things that you do not understand. For example, say, “I know you want a block. Tell me which block you want.”
  • Teach your child new words. Reading books or talking about things you see is a great way to do this.  Describe how things look or feel. Use words that describe color, shape, and size.
  • Practice counting. Count toes and fingers. Count steps.
  • Use new words in sentences to help your child learn the meaning. Use words that are similar, like “woman, lady, grown-up, and adult.”
  • Put objects into a bucket. Let your child remove them one at a time. As your child removes an object, say its name. Repeat what they say and add to it. Help them group the objects into categories, like clothes, food, or animals.
  • Cut out pictures from mail and magazines, and make a scrapbook. Help your child glue the pictures into the scrapbook. Name the pictures, and talk about how you use them.
  • Look at family photos, and name the people. Talk about what they are doing in the picture.
  • Write simple phrases under the pictures. For example, “I can swim,” or “Happy birthday to Daddy.” Your child will start to understand that the letters mean something.
  • Ask your child to make a choice instead of giving a yes or no answer. For example, rather than asking, “Do you want milk?” ask, “Would you like milk or water?” Be sure to wait for the answer and praise them for answering. You can say, “Thank you for telling me what you want. I will get you a glass of milk.”
  • Sing songs, play finger games, and tell nursery rhymes. These songs and games teach your child about the rhythm and sounds of language.
  • Talk to your child in the languages you are most comfortable using. You will not confuse your child or stop them from learning English later.

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