My Child is 1: What Should She Be Saying & Doing?

A Month-by-Month Guide to Speech, Language and Communication Development

Your little baby turned one! This is a huge moment to cherish and celebrate! This is also a time when your little love is absorbing even more of the world around them. There is so much that is in store for your little one as she continues on her journey of self-expression!

Child development is highly individualized and dependent on so many factors. So, when you begin searching the internet for “what is my 1 year old supposed to be doing,” take into account your little one’s unique set of strengths and use the milestones as a guide to help support you in empowering your little one’s voice.

I am also a big supporter of parental instinct. If you are feeling like “I feel like my 1 year old is behind in her development,” then chances are you are picking up on something that may need a bit more support. This could be anything from parent coaching and education to direct therapy for your little one-either way, my motto is “when in doubt, rule it out.” Do not follow the “wait and see” philosophy when it comes to your little one’s self-expression.

As a professional and child communication expert, I am not a fan of developmental milestones. I find they bring unnecessary stress and worry for many families and it takes the focus off your child and onto a version of success that truly has no clear meaning. Every child is different and there are so many factors, in any given moment, to take into consideration when assessing milestones and norms.

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In this article, I have outlined for you a month-by-month guide to your little one’s speech, language and communication development during between 1-2 years of age. Remember, simply use this as a tool in helping guide you towards empowering and elevating your little one’s expression:

MONTHS 12 – 15

  • Imitates other children
  • Initiates turn-taking routines
  • Uses vocalizations more frequently than gestures
  • Attempts to feed adults and comb hair
  • Shakes head to indicate “no”
  • Explores toys
  • Follows one-step commands/directions
  • Maintains attention to pictures/books
  • Responds to “give me” command
  • Identifies 3 body parts
  • Demonstrates symbolic and functional play with objects
  • Understands 50+ words (including mostly nouns and some verbs)
  • Says 8-10 words (either independently or imitated)
  • Makes animal noises
  • Attempts to combine vocalizations with gestures to get needs/wants met
  • Demonstrates emergence of early developing consonants like /p/, /b/, and /m/

MONTHS 15 – 18

  • Plays away from familiar people
  • Shows, points to, or gives objects to familiar people
  • Uses words to protest
  • Plays with toys in multiple/different way
  • Requests assistance from adult by handing them a toy
  • Identifies 6 body parts
  • Understands simple commands with gestures
  • Understands 50+ words
  • Uses about 15 word meaningfully
  • Demonstrates emergence of consonants like /t/, /d/, /n/, /l/
  • Asks “what’s that?”
  • Asks for “more” (by saying, gesturing or signing)
  • Names familiar objects
  • Uses more words than gestures to communicate wants/needs
  • Moves objects from one hand to the other 
  • Recognizes books 
  • Recognizes intonation and familiarity in books 
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Responds to name 
  • Shows interest and curiosity about objects in environment 

MONTHS 19 – 21

  • Uses vocalizations and words during play
  • Leads adult towards a desired object
  • Pretends to play an instrument or dance to music
  • Puts on / takes off clothes
  • Increases in pretend play skills
  • Uses two objects tighter during ply
  • Identifies clothing items and body parts
  • Understands simple commands
  • Identifies pictures/objects when named (with 5 or more objects)
  • Understands the meaning of common action words/verbs
  • Frequently uses single words to communicate wants/needs
  • Imitates 2-3 word phrases
  • Demonstrates emergence of spontaneous 2-word phrases

MONTHS 22 – 24

  • Gestures to request actions
  • Gestures to indicate toileting needs
  • Engages in symbolic and pretend play routines
  • Stacks and assembles objects/toys
  • Puts away objects when requested
  • Follows 2-step commands
  • Understands and uses new words regularly
  • Uses 2-word phrase frequently
  • Uses 50 different words with an associated meaning
  • Uses 3-word phrases at times
  • Refers to self by name

At Valued Voices, we are big believers and advocates for early intervention. Do not let anyone (even yourself) tell you to “wait and see.” If you feel like your little one needs support, the earlier you provide her with the quality of care and support she needs, the more present and connected she will feel.

When in doubt, rule it out: book a screening with me today.

Sholeh Shahinfar, MA, CCC-SLP, RYT

Sholeh Shahinfar, MA, CCC-SLP, RYT

Sholeh Shahinfar is the Founder of Valued Voices, a licensed Speech Language Pathologist, Child Communication Specialist and Certified Oral Motor Therapist. She is passionate about uplifting children’s voices in the world and inspiring self-expression. In her free time, Sholeh embraces a vegan lifestyle, loves going to the ocean, exploring nature with her pup Kobe, practicing yoga, traveling, and spending time with her loved ones.