Late Talker

Speech Therapy Tips to Help Your Toddler Combine Words

May 22, 2023

I’m Brooke
I'm a speech therapist with a mission to make speech therapy simple and accessible! 
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While there is a range of normal, milestones can be a quick screener to see if your toddler is on track with their speech and language development.

Here is a quick breakdown of speech milestones for how many words:

12 months: 1-5 words

18 months: 10-50

24 months: 100-300 words + using word combinations such as “Go Daddy!”

36 months + = 1000 + words

Word combinations by 24 months

Did you notice the big language milestone that happens by 24 months?  Not only do we see an explosion in vocabulary, but we also see toddlers combining words.

This is a huge leap in language development! Now your little one can use the words they already have to create brand new meanings to describe the world around them!

For example, if your toddler was using the words: Daddy, bye, up, shoe, and eat, now they can say:

  1. “Daddy,  up”  when they want to be picked up
  2. “Daddy,  go” when Daddy,  is leaving
  3. “Daddy, shoe” when they see Daddy’s  shoes
  4. Daddy eat” when your toddlers wants a snack

If you notice your little one isn’t combining words just yet, continue to help them build their single word vocabulary by adding language to familiar routines, talking about what your toddler is interested in, and getting face to face so that your toddler can watch your mouth and facial expressions. You can also encourage your toddler to put more words together with a few speech therapy strategies.

birthday cake for two year old

Here are 3 speech therapy secrets to encourage your toddler use to more words combinations:

  1. Model verbs: Verbs are building blocks for combinations. Every sentence has a verb (“I ate pizza” “I went for a walk,” “I saw my friend).  When you intentionally model verbs, you’re modeling the building blocks needs for combinations. Pair actions with the word such as “push” when you’re pushing your toddler on a swing, “go” as you push car, and “open” as you open the car door.
  • Expand what your little one says:  You can help model combinations by expanding what your toddler is already saying. Do this by repeating them and adding 1-2 words, but still using correct grammar.  For example, if they say, “dog,” you could say “It’s a big dog!” or  “It’s a happy dog!” The goal is to model language that’s just above where they are right now.
  • Combine gestures in your own speech:  Research shows that children combine words with gestures before they combine words with other words. For example, they might say “water” and tap on the table in front of them to let you know they want their water cup.  You can model using gestures in your own speech and combining them.  Make your hands match what your mouth is saying. For example, if you’re talking about a “big bus,” you could make your arms big and pretend to drive a big wheel.

Toddlers start using combination around the time they hit the 50 word mark.  Download my First 50 Words Checklist to get a better picture of how many words your toddler is using.

If you’re looking for more ways to support your little one’s speech development at home, check out my online course that will show you step by step how to help your toddler say more and get off to the best possible start with speech and language development.

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