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  • Genna Nichol

Speech and Language Milestones 2–3 Years

Between two and three years of age, your child will continue to develop new skills in many areas. You can expect strong emotions, pretend play, more words, and lots of cuddles! This article provides a list of the typical speech and language milestones most children will achieve at this age.

Developmental milestones happy toddler playing with teddy bear
Young child with teddy bear

Play milestones:

  • Play next to other children but may not play with them

  • May begin to play with other children but may not directly interact with others during play (e.g., use the same play equipment with other children at the same time but not for a shared activity)

  • Treat dolls or stuffed animals as if they are alive

  • Begin to use more imagination with common objects (i.e., use a stick as a sword, pretend to fill up a toy car with gas)

  • Play themes reflected in less common events (e.g., visiting the doctor)

  • Include storylines and more details in play

Social milestones:

  • Introduce new topics when changing topics

  • Clarify when someone does not understand them and ask for clarification when they do not understand

  • Provide details to enhance understanding

  • Begin to adapt speech to different listeners

  • Engage in short conversations

  • Express emotions

  • Use language in an imaginative way

  • Follow rules and use some polite terms

  • Understand others may feel differently than they do

Speech milestones

  • Use p, b, m, h, w, t, d, and n in words

  • k, g, f, s sounds are emerging

  • Use a variety of vowels sounds such as ‘oo’, ‘ah’, ‘ay’, ‘oy’, ‘ee’, ‘oh’, ‘uh’, ‘eye’

  • Understood by parents 50–75% of the time

  • May leave off harder sounds (e.g., “ba” for “ball”, “bat”, or “bus”) or repeat easier sounds (e.g., “baba” for “bubbles”)

  • Use a variety of syllable shapes including vowel consonant (“eat”), consonant vowel (“bye”), CVCV (“baby”)

Expressive language milestones:

  • Have at least 100–200 words and add more each week

  • Use words like “in”, “on”, and “under”

  • Talk about things that are not in the room

  • Use verbs, nouns, and adjectives

  • Use two- and three-word phrases

  • Ask “why” questions

  • Use verbs with “-ing” ending (e.g., going, falling eating)

  • Use -s ending for plurals (cars, apples)

  • Begin to use possessive -s (baby’s bottle)

Receptive language milestones:

  • Understand opposites (e.g., “go” versus “stop”)

  • Follow two-part directions (e.g., get the ball and put it in the box)

  • Understand in, on, out of

  • Start to understand basic concepts: wet/dry, big/little, hot/cold

It is important to remember these are milestones for most children at this age, but each child develops at their own rate. However, if your child has not met a significant number of these milestones or if you are concerned with your child's development, please see your family doctor who can do a thorough assessment and suggest next steps.

We offer speech and language assessments and therapy for children of all ages.

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