6 Things Your 2-Year-Old Should Be Able to Do

As your toddler reaches their second year, their communication skills keep growing right along with their clothing sizes! From saying more words, to pronouncing new consonants, to starting to use more conversational speech, it’s a year full of exciting speech and language milestones. Let’s look at 6 key milestones for 2-year-olds, explore how much a 2-year-old should talk, and discuss what to do if your child isn’t yet demonstrating these skills.

1 Use a vocabulary of 50 words

Should a 2-year-old be talking? How many words should a 2-year-old have?

The first three years of a child’s life are some of the biggest years of development, and that includes vocabulary. By the time a child turns 2, they can typically say around 50 words. These words may not be perfectly clear, but that’s normal at this point. Age 2 is also a time of language growth, so you should also be hearing your child say new words each week. 

Two-year-olds can typically use these words for a variety of purposes. They may label items, comment about things they see, or request something, like a snack or help reaching a toy. 

Your child should be using these words on their own, not only when you prompt them. The independence in speech and language that happens around age 2 is huge! 

2 Answer questions

As you engage in conversation with your toddler, you may notice that they're now able to answer questions. If you ask a “Where” or “What” question, a 2-year-old can typically answer this. They will eventually be able to answer “When,” “Who,” and “Why” questions as they get closer to their third birthday. 

The ability to answer questions is a sign that their receptive language–the words they understand–has increased since the year before. We have to be able to comprehend what’s spoken to us in order to respond and communicate appropriately.

It’s fun to reach the stage where you can talk with your child in this way. It allows you to get to know their personality better. Not to mention, it’s helpful when you can finally get an answer to questions like “What happened?” or “Where are you hurting?” 

3 Ask questions 

As much as answering questions is a milestone, so is asking them! You’ll likely notice your 2-year-old asking questions like “Where Mommy?” or “What’s that?” This is a way for them to start a conversation with you, and it shows huge growth in their communication abilities. Their sentence structure may not be perfect, but at this stage, that’s OK. 

4 Talk in two-word phrases 

As your toddler communicates with you through questions and comments, they will typically begin pairing at least two words together. So they may say things like “More juice” or “I fall.”

Because your 2-year-old is in the beginning phases of learning to combine words, their grammar and sentence structure won’t be perfect. That’s expected at this age! As your child gets closer to their third birthday, they may begin putting more words together and creating longer sentences. By the time your child is 3, they should start using three-word phrases. 

As your 2-year-old talks to you throughout the day, make note of how many words they use in their phrases. And be sure to write down some of the funny things they say! You’ll have lots of laughs when you read them years from now.

5 Participate in back-and-forth conversation 

As your toddler gets older, you’ll notice more of a back-and-forth aspect in your conversations with them. Previously, your child may not have been able to sustain much of a conversation. Perhaps you’d comment on something, they’d respond in some way, and that would be it. But now, if you ask your child a question, they should be able to answer it. And as they get closer to their third birthday, you should notice more back-and-forth conversation on the same topic. As your 2-year-old grows, they’ll be better able to stay focused on what you’re talking about.

6 Speak more clearly

Your 2-year-old’s speech will typically start to become clearer and easier to understand as they grow. Now, it likely won’t be perfect. But let’s say your toddler used to say “Da” for “Daddy.” You may start hearing something closer to “Daddy,” or even the actual word. 

A child’s speech clarity improves as they use more consonants and begin to pair consonants and vowels together. Two-year-olds can typically say the following consonants before they reach 3 years of age: /b/, /n/, /m/, /p/, /h/, /w/, and /d/.

Watch your 2-year-old’s development 

As your child moves through their second year, keep tabs on their communication abilities and watch for the skills listed above. If your child isn’t acquiring any of these skills, this may be a sign of a speech or language delay

Talk with your child’s pediatrician to get their input. They may recommend a wait-and-see approach. But if your child continues to not show improvement in their speech and language, it’s best to meet with a speech therapist for an evaluation.

Children’s speech and language skills build on one another. That means that they need to be mastered in sequential order. If your child is stuck at one skill, they may not be able to move on to new skills until they reach that first goal. Many kids need speech therapy support to reach their developmental milestones. 

What is speech therapy like for a 2-year-old?

Speech therapy for a toddler starts with an evaluation. The speech therapist will assess your child’s current strengths and weaknesses in communication. They will also ask you for information about how your child communicates.

From there, the speech therapist will decide if therapy is needed, as well as the frequency of sessions and which goals will be targeted in therapy. The speech therapist will likely structure sessions around games, toys, and other fun activities. Toddlers respond best to play activities, which helps them stay motivated. Play also helps them focus and absorb more of what they’re learning. 

Stay in close touch with the speech therapist in order to track your child’s progress. Your speech therapist should explain what you can practice at home to help your child master their new skills. The more your child practices speech and language at home, the faster progress they’ll make! 

Your child’s second year is full of new developments. Notice and celebrate all the ways that they’re learning to communicate, no matter what they’re able to do. Remember, many 2-year-olds benefit from speech therapy to help them reach their full communication potential. Get ready to watch all the amazing ways your child is going to grow!

Sign up for a consultation
Discuss your communication needs with a speech therapist for free
Get started

More from

Watch learning jump (leap! spring! hop!) from your sessions into the real world.

Get started