How Many Words Should a 16-month Say?

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Do you want to know how many words should a 16-month say? Then you can use the information in this article. Of course, each child is unique and different but, in several cases, toddlers around 16 to 18 months should already be saying three more words aside from “mama”.

Let’s delve deeper into the speech development of toddlers especially at around sixteen months through this article.

Understanding Language and Speech Development in Toddlers

Language and speech development is different and unique to each child. Note, though, that kids follow a certain pattern that will help them in slowly progressing and mastering language skills. One thing you also have to remember is that communication begins from the moment your child is born.

Initially, babies communicate what they want or need to their parents or caregivers by crying. The cries will eventually turn into coos and babbles. Soon enough, you can see your toddler starting to use words to convey their message. They will also start learning how to string together such words to form sentences.

One reminder regarding language skills and development is that it does not only refer to the number of words that your child can say. It also encompasses expressive language, like spoken sentences and words, pragmatic language, including the ability of your child to use his language skills in social settings, and receptive language composed of the words and sentences that your child can already understand.

Also, note that while there are, of course, certain differences in the level and pace through which kids develop speech and language skills, there are those who go through language delays. Such delays cause frustration not only to parents but also to the kids themselves because they may feel incapable of communicating their message appropriately.

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    With that in mind, parents, like you, should make it a point to monitor the language development milestones of your kids. You have to observe if your toddler is speaking based on what is the typical language and speech development experienced by other kids his age.

    As much as possible, check their word count, so you will know whether their skills in this area fall within what is typical for their age range. That way, you get the chance to intervene immediately in case there are noticeable red flags that may indicate that there is indeed a delay in your child’s language and speech development.

    Typical Number of Words for a 16-Month-Old

    So how many words should a 16-month say? If your toddler is already sixteen months, you may want to know right away whether his speech and language development is normal. Note that it is actually kind of hard to give a number regarding the exact words your 16-month should be saying.

    However, on average, your toddler should have around one to three additional words aside from what they call you or his parents. Also, it is normal to see kids around 16 to 18 months attempting to say at least three words. Keep in mind that it does not necessarily mean that your toddler should say such words perfectly.

    However, there should still be an attempt to talk using different words. Note also that just like other forms of child development, what you can consider normal in your child’s speech and language development has a wide and large spectrum. For instance, several toddlers are capable of saying two words only.

    Meanwhile, other kids already have the ability to speak at least a dozen words as soon as they hit 16 months. While it does not have good articulation at times, it is still very rewarding to hear even just a single word from your child.

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    At age 16 months is also the time when your toddler is already capable of saying 10 to 15 words. Generally, though, during the start of your toddler’s 16th month, he should attempt to say several words and understand a few simple instructions and phrases.

    What Words Will You Most Likely Hear from Your Toddler?

    The first few words that you will most likely hear from your toddler who is already around 16 months are labels for people, things, and animals in the world. For instance, they may say “da” to refer to a dog or “ba” to refer to a ball.

    Expect your toddler to keep on learning short phrases and single words, too, adding around one word or two every month. Once they hit 18 months, there is also a high possibility that your toddler will go through an experience called language explosion. At this particular pace, they will most likely learn up to ten new words daily.

    Upon mastering several words, your toddler will have the opportunity to better convey their message and thoughts aloud. You can also see them observing adults surrounding them, which may cause them to imitate what they hear. For example, your child may shout “dog” if they see the animal digging into your pot. This is possible especially if they hear you doing the same.

    Your Toddler’s Growing Vocabulary

    It is very rewarding to see your toddler growing the number of words they can already say and understand; hence, seeing them expanding their vocabulary. This is something that your toddler will be able to show you soon.

    The good news is that sooner or later, they will be able to know the basics of stringing their growing vocabulary together so they can form short and understandable sentences. It is also a great possibility for your child to ignore using words that are not that essential, such as articles or prepositions.

    In the meantime, you will enjoy seeing your toddler suddenly stringing their words together. For example, when they see a cat digging into your pots with flourishing plants, there is a chance that they’ll say “Bad cat”.

    Experts refer to these formed sentences at an early age as telegraphic speech often containing two words. The sentences may only consist of short words but such represent another level of communication not only between you and your child but also with others.

    For example, you may hear him saying “Go slide” once you take him to the playground. Another example is when they shout “Dad home” when they see and hear their father’s car engine in the driveway.

    A lot of toddlers also have this egocentric nature, which may cause their early sentences to look like commands. You may hear your child yelling “Find toy car” or “More snack” as they are still testing their newfound skills, so they can communicate their needs.

    You may also notice that initially, some of their words are inaccurate. For example, they may refer to any 4-legged animal with a tail and fur as a “dog”.  In most cases, though, they use correct words.

    How to Help Your Child During Language and Speech Development?

    So how can you help your child develop their speech and language skills? Here are some simple yet very effective tips that any parent will be able to use:

    Read books together

    As much as possible, there should be a few picture books at home that you can use to read to him every day. This plays a huge role in honing your toddler’s language skills. Note that there is no need for you to require your toddler to sit still. It is still possible for you to read to him during his playtime.

    When reading to your toddler, it is highly recommended to do it in a slow and expressive manner. Use various voices for various characters. It also helps to change the pitch and volume of the voice while reading.

    Get rid of any background distraction

    Avoid leaving your television set on unless the two of you are watching a show. Even playing music in the background is not recommended unless you or your child are actively participating in the song or dance. You have to eliminate such distractions to ensure that there will be no hurdles in their attempt to process the words they hear from normal conversations.

    Teach them about words describing feelings/emotions

    This is important so your toddler will be able to harness their ability to describe their feelings or emotions through words. In case your toddler is still unfamiliar with emotion or feeling words, it helps to read books that talk about emotions. You may also buy flashcards or posters talking about these feelings. It is even possible for you to use the pictures of your child, so they will learn certain emotions they have emitted.

    Teach them nursery rhymes

    The reason is that these nursery rhymes are effective in honing a child’s language skills. It is because such nursery rhymes give a strong and solid foundation of vocabulary words. Nursery rhymes use rhythms for the words used, which will be a big help in honing the language memory skills of your toddler. This can further improve their vocabulary and language skills.


    How many words should a 16-month say? By now, you may already have an idea about the answer to that question. Note, though, that you can also take part in making your child improve his language and vocabulary skills. 

    The simple act of describing all the things you are doing can help increase the number of words your child can say and understand. Every time they point at something, label or name it. 

    Once they name an object, make it a point to integrate another descriptive word for it, such as the shape or color. The goal here is to keep on talking to your toddler, so you can see him starting to talk fluently, too.