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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.