Speech and Language Traits of the 2½ -Year-Old

Your child’s speech and language development depends on his or her ability to hear. A hearing loss can interrupt or delay the ability to communicate. All children, even newborns and young babies, can have their hearing tested. If you suspect a hearing problem, ask your doctor to refer your child to an audiologist. Seek prompt medical treatment if you suspect your child may have an ear infection.

At 2½, your child will...

  • have a 450-word vocabulary
  • give his or her first name
  • use past tense and plurals and combine nouns and verbs
  • understand such simple time concepts as "last night" and "tomorrow"
  • refer to self as "me" rather than giving his or her name
  • try to get your attention, such as "watch me"
  • use "no" or "not" and may say "no" when meaning "yes"
  • talk to other children as well as adults
  • begin to control behavior verbally rather than just physically
  • answer "where" questions
  • name common pictures and things he or she comes in contact with regularly
  • use short sentences to announce what he or she had done or will do, such as "me do it" or "me want to go"
  • know big and little
  • hold up fingers to tell age

You can stimulate your 2½-year-old child’s speech and language by...

  • letting your child tell you answers to simple questions
  • reading books every day, perhaps at bedtime
  • playing records and singing songs
  • expanding on what the child says. If the child says “more juice” you say “Billy wants more juice.”
  • talking to the child a little beyond his or her level or understanding
  • introducing new words and concepts to the child
  • encouraging the child to talk
  • describing what you are doing, thinking, or planning exposing the child to many new experiences which you will talk about before, during and after the event
  • having the child deliver a simple message for you such as "Mommy needs you, Daddy"
  • asking questions of the child to stimulate thought and language
  • showing the child you understand what he or she says by answering, smiling, nodding your head
  • prolonging some sounds in words the child may have difficulty in saying, such as "Put on your ssssock (sock)." Have the child watch your face as you say the sound correctly.

Provided for you by the Speech & Hearing Board of the Baptist Health Care Foundation and United Way Agency.