By the time a toddler has a vocabulary of at least 30-40 words, they begin to put words together into 2-word phrases (the child must be USING the 30-40 words in spontaneous speech to comment/request/label, not just imitating). The general “rule of thumb” is that at age one, children use only ONE word to communicate, then at age two, they use TWO words, by age three, they are using THREE or more words in sentences (requesting/commenting/asking & answering questions). I find myself using the following strategies right now with my 24-month-old and thought I’d share some ways to help increase the 2-word phrases in your toddler’s vocabulary.

  • One simple way is to build phrases using words your child already has in their vocab.: Does your child have some functional words associated with mealtime, bedtime, playtime etc.??? Try adding MORE and PLEASE to those words. For example, “more juice”, “help please”, “out please”. “more crackers”, “up please”.
  • Incorporate greetings to build phrases: “Hi daddy”. “bye-bye nana”ABC Pediatric Therapy neoprene vest comfort
  • Model phrases throughout your daily routines, commenting on what is happening or what your child is doing, “night-night baby”, “go out”, “want up?”, “purple ball”, the more these phrases are modeled, the greater the chance your child will begin to imitate!
  • Incorporate “automatic” phrases as well: For example, “I did it”, “this one”, “that one”, “my turn”, “let’s go”, “no mine”
  • If you notice that your child isn’t quite catching on to 2-word phrase imitation, begin by repeating single words in a string, for example, “go-go-go!”, “up-up-up”, “night-night” to see how they respond.

If you have concerns about your child’s development, visit our webpage at https://www.abcpediatrictherapy.com for more information.

Written by: Christina Sanford, MA, CCC-SLP