Communication Milestones

24-36 Month Communication Milestones

Posted on
November 10, 2022
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Your child is in the third phase of their life. Understanding 24-36 months communication milestones is important, as it's when carers will start to not only look at language development. You may start to focus more on speech sound production as well.

Concerns will emerge when family members cannot understand what the child is attempting to say when producing their sentences. When a child’s ability to be intelligible or understood by familiar and unfamiliar listeners is reduced, an assessment can determine if a speech sound disorder is present. In some cases, the child is speaking too quickly, and in other cases there are many sound substitutions; or of course, both can co-occur.

Language development during this time starts to pick up. At this time, two words are produced together at the 24 month mark. As they progress from 24 to 36 months, parents and caregivers will often notice a language burst. Two word phrases will evolve into sentences. Vocabulary will expand rapidly. At 30 months, at least 50 words should be in the child’s vocabulary (the upper latter at 300). By 36 months, 3 word phrases are expected to be combined. Typically up to 1,000 words are in the child’s vocabulary. The types of sentences produced will not be mature, and it's expected that there will be grammatical errors.

Let’s take a look at expected communication milestones:

Expressive  Language Receptive Language Play Attention & Listening  Speech sounds
Uses 3+ words in sentences. Points to body parts Points to things in a book (“Where is the frog”); by 30 months starts naming them. Follows 2-3-part commands. Understands  spatial concepts: in, on, and under Understands most requests and most of what is said to him or her. Takes turns in games. Pretend play and imaginary play. Self directed, but directs attention to things that are desired. Acquisition of more sounds; understood by familiar listeners.

A change that parents will notice during this time is that their children will be able to start following more complex directives. This means less repetition of the same expectations from your children! As they begin to understand more during this phase of development, they will also be able to understand requests that are made - not following them due to resistance as different personalities start to expose themselves also at this phase is to be expected!

Attention & Play

Attention will extend itself and be less focused on the child’s interest. The child will now engage in attention with others and try to get the attention of others. The literature has different viewpoints on stages of sound acquisition but by this time, t, d, n, f, k and g should be emerging. Play skills will continue to develop during this time, and pretend play and imaginary play will become commonplace. Children will also start taking turns when engaging in activities with others. By 36 months, children will start engaging in more advanced play that has themes and roles (ie. playing doctor).

Important: A child should have an updated audiological assessment or hearing screening to determine if an audiological impairment is present. This will impact all milestones.

  1. Speech and Language Developmental Milestones | NIDCD
  2. CDC’s Developmental Milestones
  3. ASHA Developmental Norms for Speech and Language
  4. Speech Milestones
  5. Speech Pathology Australia
Sharon Baum
Clinical Director, United States and M.A. CCC-SLP