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12-18 Months

This is a guide to how children develop speech and language between 12 and 18 months.

At this stage, children will start to use language in a more recognisable way. They will also become more sociable.

Children develop skills at different rates, but by 18 months, usually children will:

  • Enjoy games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake and toys that make a noise. 
  • Start to understand a few simple words, like ‘drink’, ‘shoe’ and ‘car’. Also simple instructions like 'kiss mummy', 'kick ball' and 'give me'.
  • Point to things when asked, like familiar people and objects such as ‘book’ and ‘car’.
  • Use up to 20 simple words, such as 'cup', 'daddy' and 'dog'. These words may not always be easily recognised by unfamiliar adults.
  • Gesture or point, often with words or sounds to show what they want.
  • Copy lots of things that adults say and gestures that they make.
  • Start to enjoy simple pretend play, for example pretending to talk on the phone.

Progress Checker

Check the Progress of your child’s communication development using our Progress Checker for children at the following ages:

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