As your baby approaches 18 to 24 months an amazing verbal phenomenon happens – your baby starts exploding with new words – literally learning significantly many (more than 10) new words daily. We call this the language explosion and during this time little ones go from using 20 individual words to hundreds of words combined in simple sentences (like “Where doggy” or “Mommy sad”). Your older toddler can understand almost all instructions and begins to learn concepts like number and colour too.


It is always important to remember that little ones are all unique and develop at their own pace, so your little one may experience the language explosion a little later than other babies. If you are concerned, you can watch for a cluster of signs that your baby needs more focused attention to their language. According to speech therapist Tersia De Villiers: “If you are concerned that your baby is not experiencing a language explosion, you can seek help if  your child did not turn his/her head or react to sound by 12 months or did not babble, or does not respond to his/her name or does not attempt to communicate with pointing or waving at all by 12 months.”


There are also wonderful ways to be prepared-ish for your baby’s emerging language skills:

  1. Use picture books to create your own story to tell your baby and toddler. This will help her connect more emotionally with the spoken words and thus learn to speak.
  2. Give a running commentary on everything that you do in the day.
  3. Ask your little one questions to entice her to respond, like: “Where is the birdy?” or Is that cookie yummy?”
  4. If you can’t find something to talk about, do nursery rhymes with your child.
  5. Point out things in every space you go into – indoors or outdoors and at the shops.


Language explosion is such an exciting part of parenting because it gives you a gateway to your little one’s mind and thoughts.