Language Milestones

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Your child will also employ her own set of strategies as she begins to communicate verbally. To help you make the most of your parent-child interactions, here's a rundown of the language principles used by most 1-year-olds.

  • One-year-olds use a lot of linguistic shorthand. Children at this age often use one word to stand for a whole sentence. "Juice," for example, can mean any number of things, including-but not limited to-"I'd like some more juice now, please," or "Oh, no, I spilled my juice on the floor!" Situational cues -- the empty glass or the puddle on the linoleum -- are important. In your child's earliest sentences, only the words necessary to convey meaning are included. For example, "Daddy ball" or "Daddy have" can mean "Daddy has my ball, and I want it back now."
  • The 1-year-old's language doesn't develop at a steady rate. Words are acquired in bursts, with periods of slower development in between. The acceleration of language learning at around 18 months is an example of this.
  • Language is only one thing being learned now. Language use is an important feature of the second year, but your child is making great strides during this time in motor, social, and cognitive development, too. At times, his linguistic progress may slow down as it takes a backseat to new developments in these other areas.
  • Your child may take a linguistic step backward now and then, but it's nothing to worry about. She may lapse into earlier stages of language development in terms of either the words that she uses or the clarity with which she produces these words -- using baby talk, for instance, when she has already abandoned it. This is especially likely to happen after an illness or other upset. She should soon be moving forward again in this area and will more than make up for the lost time.

Have Fun With Baby's Development

Giving commands
Both receptive language and cognitive and social skills come into play when you ask your child to follow simple directions. By about 18 months, he should be able to follow a one-step direction ("Pick up your bear"). Toward their second birthday, most kids can follow two directions. To observe your child's progress, you might say, "Pick up your truck and put it in the toy basket." When he has followed these instructions, give him two more: "Close the lid and put your blanket on top." As with all attempts to assess your child, don't let him think you're testing him. Make a game out of it, or observe him in everyday situations.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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