Between 12 and 24 months of age, changes in the brain help your toddler learn and understand language. Most toddlers understand many more words than they are able to speak. For example, they are often able to point to their nose or eyes or other body parts when asked, even though they may not say the words for them.
The rate at which children learn to talk varies widely, although in general you can expect your child to:
Language development milestones are the most variable of all skills. Toddlers who are slower than others in reaching these milestones may still be in the range of normal development. It is important to identify and monitor these patterns but not to become too concerned. If your child communicates effectively through emotional expression, gestures, and other means, usually he or she will develop speech normally. But if your child seems to lose language skills that previously were mastered, it is a good idea to have him or her checked by a doctor.
Also, keep in mind that newfound language skills may make it seem as though your toddler understands more than he or she really does. Although toddlers sometimes express words that seem to convey their grasp of an issue, they do not necessarily fully understand. For example, a child may say "go bye-bye" as you leave but may not fully understand what is happening until you are gone. When parents understand this gap between speech and comprehension, they can help the children manage their feelings.
For more information, see the topic Speech and Language Development.
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