The 25 Words Every Two-Year-Old Should Know

Health & Wellness on 03.05.12
Contributor bio | twitter

Photo Credit: Barry Rosenthal/Getty Images

As the mom of a late talker, I didn't really know where to turn when my daughter wasn't communicating at the same rate as her peers. Physically she was surpassing them in leaps and bounds, and emotionally seemed to be doing just fine, but as her second birthday approached it was began to become a bit more concerning that she wasn't speaking as much or as comprehensible as her peers. But Professor Leslie Rescorla of Bryn Mawr College who has been studying child language development for over 15 years has recently released a list of 25 words that your two-year-old should know that would have been a great barometer for me to have a year ago.

The Daily Mail which requested Rascorla release the list of words after a presentation she did at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual conference last month, reports that the average number of words a two-year-old will know is 150, and most children score somewhere between 75 and 225 on the Language Development Survey that Rascorla used. If a child has less than 50 words it can be a sign of autism, deafness, and more, although it doesn't mean there is definitely a problem. But it is a sign that parents should pay attention to and talk to their pediatrician about to determine if additional testing or speech therapy is needed.

Rascorla actually found in her research following 78 children over several years that half of them were late talkers, but by the time they reached aged 17 they were considered to be at least average when it came to vocabulary although still behind their early or normal talking peers. So what are the 25 words that she considers essential words for a two-year-old to know?

Mommy
Daddy
Baby
Milk
Juice
Hello
Ball
Yes
No
Dog
Cat
Nose
Eye
Banana
Biscuit
Car
Hot
Thank you
Bath
Shoe
Hat
Book
All gone
More
Bye-bye

In my daughter's case, I don't recall if she had these exact words. Her school was very concerned about her lack of speech and shared with me the guideline of having 50 words about a month before her birthday. For me that ended up being enough to determine that she didn't need the speech therapy. From my count she had about 40 words one month before her second birthday and was gaining words regularly. And one day I walked in to pick her up from school, and she said, "Momma, I have poops." The school's director turned around completely shocked and said that they'd never heard her say anything but "Momma" and "Daddy." It turns out that she just wasn't really talking at school. She was still a bit behind her peers, but she met the 50 word guideline and then some by her second birthday, and now a year later, she's talking pretty normally. So if you're concerned about your child's speech development, consider how many words they have, compare those words against the above list, consider if they might be behaving differently in different situations, and check with your doctor if you see any red flags.

Top Articles on Language Development in Toddlers
Why Toddlers Really, Really Need a Nap
Can I Really Teach My Baby to Read?
5 Year Old Critiques the Ad World's Most Famous Logos