How Many Words Should a 21-Month-Old Say?

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As a parent, the first words that come out of your baby’s mouth will always sound like music to your ears. But the question is, how will you know if their language skills and speech development are appropriate for their age?

Let’s say, for instance, you want to know how many words should a 21-month-old say. What will you use as your gauge to measure if their milestones and development in this area are right on track? Let’s try to uncover the answers here.

Milestones in Language Skills and Speech Development

Each time a parent wishes to know the specific number of words their growing toddler should say, it is necessary to gain a clear understanding of the expected range based on their age. The reason is that kids tend to learn how to speak based on their own pace. They develop their speech and language skills depending on their unique pace and abilities.

Note, though, that there are also markers, also called milestones, that you can use as your guide in gauging the ability of your child to talk. It is these milestones that many medical professionals, speech therapists, and healthcare providers use in monitoring the development of a child.

If you are still unsure what milestones mean in your child’s language and speech development, then take note that the term refers to the least number of words a child is expected to say for a certain age. If you notice your child saying fewer words compared to his supposed milestones, it is highly advisable to let him go through further evaluation.

Various people also use numbers that are a bit different from each other when checking out a child’s vocabulary milestones. This is the reason why various sources also seem to provide different milestones.

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    Generally, though, it is possible to determine a milestone based on what around ninety percent of kids at a certain age already learned. Also, it is crucial to remind yourself that you can’t find perfect data sets indicating the specific things that around ninety percent of kids at a particular age are doing. With that said, it is safe to assume that milestones are basically just estimates.

    So How Many Words Should a 21-month-old Say? Typical Language Milestones for a 21-month-Old

    Your child’s language skills will surely develop during the first few years of his life. Twenty-one-month-old toddlers should already be capable of saying several words correctly. They should also be able to start naming and recognizing objects that you pointed out.

    If you have a 21-month-old child, then the best way to gauge how many words should he say is to check the milestones of toddlers around 18 months and 24 months old. It is highly likely for a child to be able to do the following once they already hit around 18 to 24 months.

    • Recognizes names of people, parts of the body, and objects
    • Follows simple orders or commands, specifically those ordered to them with gestures
    • Uses and says simple phrases correctly – Ex. more food
    • Understands simple questions
    • Follows simple orders and commands
    • Ask questions composed of one to two words – Ex. Going to sleep?
    • Speaks at least 50 words – In most cases, they have unclear pronunciation.
    • Speaks clearly enough that parents or anyone around them can understand halfway
    • Recognize the meanings of verbs or action words, like jump, sit, or clap
    • Can point to some parts of the body if anyone asks them to do so
    • Answers simple questions answerable by a yes or a no
    • Picks things based on size, like small or big
    • Produces animal sounds, like “oink” or “moo”
    • Asks foods by name but usually only the common ones
    • Begins to combine words to form phrases – The phrases they usually form consist of two to three words and usually talk about things or ask for them. For ex. more apples.
    • Starts using pronouns, like “mine” and “yours”

    How Do You Know If Your 21-month-Old Has Language Delay?

    Language delay can be defined as a kind of communication disorder. It is highly likely that a child has a language delay if they do not meet the supposed-to-be language developmental milestones in accordance with their age. It could be that their language skills develop slower compared to other kids.

    This may result in them having difficulties expressing themselves. They may also find it difficult to understand others or those around them. The delay could be because of certain cognitive, hearing, and speech impairments. If you want to make sure that you are able to act upon a child’s language delay immediately in case it happens, you have to watch out for the following signs:

    • Not babbling at the time they reach 15 months
    • Very limited vocabulary or inability to talk even at 2 years old
    • Unable to say short sentences at 3 years
    • Has a hard time understanding and following directions
    • Find it challenging to put words together to form a sentence
    • Poor articulation or pronunciation
    • Leaves out words when trying to say a sentence

    If you notice most of these signs, then you may have to act upon them immediately. As much as possible, seek professional help so the possible language delay will be corrected immediately.

    How to Improve Your Toddler’s Language Skills?

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    As parents, you can also intervene and help your toddler improve their language skills. You can support their language development and help them learn how to speak faster through these simple tips:

    Watch and observe your child’s hands and gestures

    Note that once your child hits one year, it is highly likely that they already understand more words than what they are actually capable of speaking. With that in mind, it is advisable to use non-verbal communication, like gestures and hand signals. For instance, if you see your toddler waving at you, you can say “bye” so they can associate the action with the word and eventually, learn to say it.

    If they are pointing at an object, like a toy car, you can immediately ask them if they want to hold it. It is also a good idea to play games with them using gestures. You can also sing to them while making certain hand motions. That way, you can help them connect certain words with the right actions.

    Use real and proper words

    Even if your toddler can’t still enunciate words clearly and they often use baby words to describe an object, like “nom-nom” for “food” or “ba-ba” for “bottle”, you have to make sure that you are still using proper and real words when talking to them. Avoid talking down to them.

    As a parent, you have to stay a step ahead of your toddler’s current stage. By ensuring that you use proper and real words rather than baby talk, you can help expand their language and vocabulary faster.

    Read to your toddler often

    Do not make the mistake of flipping through the pages quickly when reading a book to them just because you feel tired or you want them to fall asleep faster. It would be a good idea to dedicate a few minutes across the entire day to reading. This means you should not just schedule reading for bedtime.

    If the book has pictures, try to describe what you see in there. Make it a point to ask your toddler about what they see in the picture, too, or what sounds certain animals in the book make. This should help them practice how to talk and communicate properly.

    Change your pitch

    Toddlers often begin to integrate inflection or modulation into their voices when asking questions. You can also see them learning that you use soft voices when indoors but it is also okay to be a bit loud when you are outdoors. In this case, you should start playing with different funny voices, like a squeaky mouse. By doing that, your child will be able to copy you, allowing them to practice various pitches and sounds.

    Make the learning process more interactive

    Note that most toddlers are fond of listening to music. Singing is also a fantastic way to cultivate their language skills. With that said, you should start teaching your child a lot of simple songs, specifically those that rhyme. Songs that produce plenty of sounds are also good for them.

    However, you should never make the mistake of letting them learn through the TV screen because they will start believing that it is the best way to learn. Remember that while it is helpful to let them watch educational shows, it is still better to spend time with them.

    You have to dedicate some time to having one-on-one interaction with them. The reason is that it is real interaction and human voices that they really want to hear and respond to.


    How many words should a 21-month-old say? Well, it depends on the developmental milestones that toddlers around that age are already supposed to show. It also depends on the child’s ability and learning pace. If you want to be of help in developing your child’s language skills, then make sure that you are part of his development by constantly interacting with him.