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  • Victoria King Erb

Is Your Child Meeting Their Speech and Language Milestones? What You Need to Know: 13 - 18 months old

What are the speech and language milestones for a child ages 13 to 18 months old? Below we will review the following: key vocabulary terms when discussing speech and language milestones, milestones expected in the age ranges 13 - 18 months, and examples or clarification for each milestone.


Key Terms:

Speech & Language Milestones: the speech, language, and hearing skills that most children (90%) will demonstrate by identified ages

Speech: how we say sounds and words - articulation, fluency, or voice

Language: the words we use and how we use them to share ideas and get what we want.

  • Receptive Language: the ability to understand/comprehend language (following directions, vocabulary, sentence comprehension)

  • Expressive Language: the ability to express self using language - by gestures, sign language, verbally, or a communication device (vocabulary, grammar)

  • Pragmatic Language: the use of appropriate communication in social situations


Speech and Language Milestones: 13-18 months old:

Understanding (Receptive Language):

  • Looks around when asked “where” questions—like “Where’s your blanket?” You can play hide-n-seek with your child and hide toys or different objects and work on answering "where" questions.

  • Follows directions—like “Give me the ball,” “Hug the teddy bear,” “Come here,” or “Show me your nose.” Give your child simple one-step directions. If they have trouble understanding, you can use gestures or pointing to help them get it. If they still have difficulty understanding, you can show them how to follow the direction by repeating the direction and following it yourself.

  • Understands words for common objects, some actions, and people in their lives. Caregivers should model the objects, actions, and people that your child is typically around. This will help them learn and eventually use vocabulary that is common to their daily environment.

  • Identifies one or more body parts. Songs like "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" or "If You're Happy and You Know It" are good songs to sing and dance to to teach body parts.

Talking/Gestures (Expressive Language):

  • Points to make requests, to comment, or to get information. During this stage, children may primarily use pointing rather than using words. When your child pulls you toward a desired object/toy/etc., you can point to the item too and name it to model the word.

  • Shakes head for “no” and nods head for “yes.” You can work on this skill by asking yes/no questions to your child. For example, "Do you want a banana for snack?" If they reach toward the banana, model by saying "yes" and nodding your head. If they show disinterest or start looking for another snack you can model, "no banana" and shaking your head.

  • Uses words for common objects, some actions, and people in their lives. Again, caregivers should model the objects, actions, and people that your child is typically around. This will help them learn and eventually use vocabulary that is common to their daily environment.

  • Uses gestures when excited, like clapping or giving a high-five, or when being silly, like sticking out their tongue or making funny faces. As adults, we use gestures frequently to show our emotion.

  • Uses a combination of long strings of sounds, syllables, and real words with speech-like inflection. When children start to use speech that sounds like they're having a conversation but it is very difficult to understand, it's referred to as "jargon". "Jargoning" should be remediated around 18 months of age. If your child is continuing to speak in "jargon", this may be a good time to contact a speech-language pathologist for more information.


Check out our other parent resources and blogs about how to help enhance and grow your child's speech and language skills during these specific age ranges.


If you are concerned about your child's speech and language development - some of the next steps you can take include:

  • contacting your child's pediatrician (ask for a referral for a speech and language evaluation)

  • contacting your local regional center to see if your child could be assessed

  • contacting a local speech therapy private practice that specializes in early language development


Resources:

ASHA. (n.d.). Communication milestones: 13 to 18 months. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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