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Is my 2-year-old normal?

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Communication Milestones for 2-year-olds

2-year-olds, those wonderful, sometimes mischievous toddlers are so much fun but often oh so much work! By now, your little one has well and truly found their voice and is using words and gestures to let you know exactly what they think. They are exerting their independence and may become easily frustrated with their own limitations. Let's take a look at what we can expect from our two-year-olds and dive into the world of ‘normal’ development.

This checklist will put your mind at rest and help you recognise when that special small person in your life may need some extra support from a speech pathologist.

We will consider typical milestones across the following elements of communication:

  • Speech: the sounds your child is making and how they are putting them together to make words

  • Vocabulary: the words your child understands and uses, and how they store them

  • Receptive Language or Comprehension: how your child understands and responds to language

  • Expressive Language: the way your child expresses themselves through words and sentences. It includes how they use language and gestures to think and convey their thoughts, feelings and ideas.

  • Phonological Awareness: how they understand and interpret sounds which leads to literacy

  • Play and Cognitive Skills: which provide communication opportunities and help your child to develop language for thinking, reasoning and problem-solving

By 2-years, your child should be:


  • Using a lot of consonant sounds including m,n,p,b,k,g,h,w,t,d

  • Making a full range of vowels

  • Attempting to say longer words

  • Speech may be hard for unfamiliar listeners to understand as they make some normal developmental error patterns, e.g. dropping the last sound off a word, shortening words by dropping a syllable, changing a sound, so it is similar to another sound in the word - ‘cat’ -> ‘tat’


  • Saying 50+ different words

  • Sorting objects into categories, e.g. putting blocks with other blocks

  • Uses social words such as ‘bye’, ‘please’, ‘thank you.’

Receptive Language

  • Following 2-step instructions, e.g. ‘get your nappy and bring it to me’, ‘give me the ball and the car.’

  • Understanding action words

  • Pointing to four action words in pictures, e.g. Which one is jumping?

  • Pointing to people and objects in pictures when they are named, e.g. Where’s___?

  • Pointing to several body parts

  • Understanding the difference between ‘in’ and ‘on’, ‘one’ and ‘many.’

  • Understanding the concept of size, e.g. big, little

  • Understanding ‘another’

Expressive Language

  • Combining 2 or more words together to make a short phrase, e.g. ‘mummy go’, ‘bye teddy’, ‘no drink.’

  • Using their own name when talking about themselves

  • Using their tone of voice to ask a question

  • Saying ‘no’

  • Using pronouns like ‘mine’, ‘my’ and ‘you’

  • Adding ‘ing’ to the end of verbs, e.g. ‘crying.’

  • Using location words such as up, down, in, on, under

Phonological Awareness

  • Becoming aware of the concept of ‘reading’ and ‘writing.’

  • Pretending to write

  • Pretends to read books

  • Recognises specific books by their covers

  • Listens to stories for longer periods

  • Holds a book correctly

Play and Cognitive Skills

  • Using two toys together in pretend play

  • Imitating housework, e.g. vacuuming

  • Matching sounds to pictures of animals

  • Pretending to talk on the phone

  • Stacking and assembling toys

  • Confidently using sounds or words to take a turn in a ‘conversation’

  • Talking to themselves when playing

If you are concerned that your child is not meeting these early communication milestones, it is the right time to see a speech pathologist. It is always best to seek help early and never take a ‘wait and see’ approach.

A speech pathologist will be able to assess your child’s communication skills and give you advice and strategies to encourage your child’s development.

At Newcastle Speech Pathology, we are passionate about helping children develop their communication skills and supporting their families because clear communication unlocks opportunities. Contact us to see how we can help you and your child.

Want to know what a 12-18 month-old should be doing? Check out our previous blog: Is my 12-18 month old normal?

Find out what is in store for your child:

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