parents with their 1 year old child

1 Year Old Speech Milestones

Have you and your partner been chatting endlessly with your toddler, waiting for them to elicit a reply of any kind? You’re not picky, you’d settle to hear even a “mama!”, “dada?”, or “dog”! 1 year old speech milestones can vary, and you’re not alone in being at least a little concerned.

There are a number of commonly asked questions we receive regularly regarding early child language development and what 1 year old speech milestones you should look for as a new parent.

What are some 1 year old speech milestones?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), language and communication recommendations for 1 year old speech milestones include:

  • Making sounds with changes in tone (that sound closer to speech)
  • Saying “mama”, “dada”, and exclamations such as “uh-oh!”
  • Trying to say words after you say them

Some additional markers to look for include:

  • Recognizing his/her own name
  • Babbling, or putting together sounds that don’t make clear sense
  • Laughter
  • Understands and enjoys playing games such as peek-a-boo
  • Uses noises to garner attention, including cooing, shouting, and squealing

The CDC and American Association of Pediatrics recommend that while each child is different, if your child isn’t saying single words such as “mama” or “dada” at 1 year old, you consider speaking with your child’s doctor about a developmental screening.

A speech language pathologist can perform a developmental screening to determine any speech delays and provide a course of action on how to work through them.

When should I worry about toddler language?

It’s important not to stress or jump to any conclusions about a speech or language delay in children. 

You might be asking yourself…is it normal for 1 year old to not be talking?

While most babies can speak at least one or two words when they turn 1 year old, it is not out of the ordinary for a healthy, normal toddler to not say a discernible world until their 18 month milestone. 

How about sign language? It’s not uncommon for children to opt for simple signs before forming full words.

A general range for when most children say their first word is somewhere between 10 to 14 months.

There are a number of scenarios where a new parent may worry and ultimately be genuinely concerned about toddler language development:

  • Not understanding simple words, such as “no” or “bye-bye”, at 15 months of age
  • Not using real words by two years of age
  • Not able to put two words together into phrases (for example, “more milk”) by two years of age

When these instances occur, it is important to share your concerns with your child’s pediatrician to discuss and evaluate their language development.

What should I know about language development 1-2 years?

In the 12 to 17 month period, your child will respond to simple questions, even with nonverbal cues to answer. They might nod their head or gesture when hearing simple directions. They may begin to say a few short words or imitate simple words from you or your spouse, and their vocabulary is generally fewer than four to six words.

Once your child reaches 18 to 24 months, their vocabulary expands into new forms of communication. Toddlers will start using two-word phrases, making animal sounds, and requesting common foods by name.

How many words should a 1 and a half year old say?

At 18 months of age, your child may have accumulated a vocabulary of at least 10 and perhaps as many as 50 new words. Their pronunciation may not be clear, but they are accumulating a new base of words and phrases.

At this point, it is common for your child to recognize and be able to point to some parts of the body when you name them.

How common are late talkers?

Late talking is not an uncommon phenomenon. When it comes to early childhood development, approximately one in every 9 or 10 children experiences late talking.

A significant number of children grow up as late-talkers and eventually go on to be productive, intelligent, and bright.

Does late talking mean my child has autism?

This question is a common one among those concerned with their child’s development and aware of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Children’s speech expert and author, Dr. Stephen Camarata, put it eloquently in The MIT Press Reader: “Although all autistic children are late talkers, not all late-talking children are autistic”.

In his own child’s early development, Camarata questioned the methodologies of the psychologist who evaluated his son and diagnosed him with mental retardation (now ‘intellectual disability’). Through firsthand experience, he implores parents to ask questions, probe, and find authentic answers. 

Intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder both come with a variety of severe symptoms — they are not limited to late talking.

Can a child with speech delays catch up?

It’s important to remember that for some toddlers, late talking may be a clinical symptom of developmental speech delays. That being said, it may also be a stage that, over time, your child will simply grow out of.

Consider receiving a clinical evaluation to determine how significant your child’s speech delays may be, and working with a speech language pathologist over time to address their individual needs.

Are late talkers less intelligent? 

You might be asking yourself this question, especially after receiving unsolicited advice from family or friends about why your child may not be communicating as others normally would.

The answer is…not at all! Many brilliant individuals began talking late, the most famous among them being Albert Einstein. The certified genius allegedly didn’t begin speaking in full sentences until reaching the age of 5! Nevertheless, he was far and beyond ahead of the curve when it came to other developmental milestones. 

Dr. Camarata and American economist Thomas Sowell came to discover a new term, Einstein Syndrome, in order to describe children who overcame early speech delays to become exceptionally gifted, highly analytical thinkers. Both experts have advocated for children that were late talkers, taken to clinical specialists, and misdiagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Personalized Assessment

Your child deserves the very best guidance in assisting them with their speech development.

Curious how we can help? We offer a thorough introductory call, so you’ll know what to expect when it comes to working with our trained experts in speech and pronunciation. 

We’re here to help your child surpass their 1 year old speech milestones and develop strong, confident language skills. Get started with an introductory call to discuss how a licensed speech and language pathologist can help you achieve your goals.

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