Researchers have compiled a list of twenty five words that every toddler should know by age two. While being slow to talk is not necessarily a cause for concern, in some cases it can be a sign of greater problems from deafness to autism.
The words and phrases identified by the scientists, which cover toys, food, animals and, of course, include ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ and ‘bye bye’ are designed to detect children who may be late speakers or have more serious issues with speech.
The 25 ‘must have’ words are part of a much larger list that are designed to be ticked off in 10 minutes by parents to determine their toddler’s vocabulary. The average child will know 150 of the words in the Language Development Survey but scores of 75 to 225 are normal.
Professor Leslie Rescorla, who designed both versions of the test, said: ‘If children don’t use most of these words by 24 months, they may be late talkers.’
The professor says that if a child is otherwise developing normally, parents shouldn’t panic as many late-talkers are simple late bloomers. But if the child is still struggling for words by two and a half, they should consider help such as speech therapy, and certainly not put this off past the age of three.
Professor Rescorla, of Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, tracked the progress of 78 two-year-olds for 15 years. Half had been slow to start talking but didn’t have any other problems. By age 17, their vocabulary was classed as at least as good as average – but still wasn’t as good as those who were better talkers as toddlers.
It has also been shown that ‘overheard speech’ such as TV and videos are no substitute for parental attention. Real interaction with the child is particularly crucial when the child is trying to figure out how to speak.
The 25 ‘must have’ words:
- Thank you
- All gone
- Bye bye