how many words should an 18 month old say uk

How Many Words Should an 18-Month-Old Say in the UK


One of the most thrilling moments for parents is listening to their baby’s first words. Every child learns at their own pace; some take their time, while others are quick learners. However, parents may become concerned about their child’s language development if they don’t start babbling or saying any words. So, how many words should an 18-month-old say in the UK? This article will explore typical language development milestones for an 18-month-old child and answer this question.

It’s crucial to remember that every child has a unique developmental path and may show variation in their language development milestones. Early detection and intervention are essential in supporting a child’s healthy growth and development.

Factors Affecting Language Development

Several factors can impact a child’s language development. Some of these factors include biological factors such as genetics and hearing issues and environmental factors such as socio-economic status and parental interaction with their child. Additionally, external factors such as cultural background and exposure to multiple languages may also affect a child’s language acquisition.

Children with siblings may acquire language skills faster than only-child children because they have more opportunities for verbal interaction with older siblings or peers. Parents who speak multiple languages fluently may expose their child to multiple dialects early on, which could lead to confusion in the child’s mind when acquiring new vocabulary.

What to Expect at 18 Months Old

At 18 months old, children would have developed several gross motor skills like crawling, walking, or even running. Most babies say few words at this stage and rely more on nonverbal communication signals such as pointing or using gestures like waving goodbye or pointing at things they want. The typical number of words that an 18-month-old should know is approximately 10-20 words. However, every child is different and may exceed or fall short of this range.

The types of words that babies usually say at this stage typically are familiar objects in their immediate surroundings, such as “mama,” “dada,” “bye-bye,” “dog,” or “juice.” They are comfortable pronouncing two syllable words like “teddy,” “ball,” or “banana.”

Signs of Developmental Delay

Several red flags can indicate a child’s language development delay. Some of these signs include:

  • The inability to say any words by 18 months old.
  • The inability to understand simple instructions.
  • The difficulty following simple two-step commands like “give me the ball and then come here.”
  • The inability to make eye contact when communicating with others.

If you observe any of the above signs in your child, it’s important to seek help from a qualified professional.

Evaluation Process

If you’re concerned about your child’s language development, you can contact your doctor or health visitor who will likely refer you to a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT). The SLT will assess your child’s communication skills using various tests and observations.

They will observe how well your child listens and follows instructions, how well they express themselves verbally, and how they interact with others during playtime. Based on their observation, the therapist will provide feedback on your child’s developmental progress and provide recommendations for further action if necessary.

Early Intervention Options

Early intervention can support a child’s language development by improving their ability to communicate effectively with others. The National Health Services (NHS) provides several early intervention programs for parents who are concerned about their child’s communication development.

The programs offered are tailored to meet the child’s and parent’s needs via group sessions, one-on-one therapy, and even at-home exercises. The goal of the intervention is to provide an opportunity for children to develop language and communication skills at an early stage, improving their overall development and future outcomes.

Parental Involvement

Parents play a significant role in their child’s communication development from infancy through adulthood. Getting involved in your child’s language development can help improve their communication skills.

Reading aloud to your child regularly or singing nursery rhymes with them can expose them to more vocabulary and build their understanding of speech sounds. Interactive games such as peek-a-boo and toy games that require verbal communication can provoke children to use words in context and improve their communication skills.

Tips for Encouraging Language Development

Here are some tips on how you could support your child’s language development:

  • Read aloud to your child daily.
  • Encourage your child to participate in conversations by asking open-ended questions.
  • Sing nursery rhymes and songs with your child.
  • Use gestures like pointing or nodding along when communicating with your child.
  • Limit screen time as much as possible


Every child develops at their unique pace, and as parents, it’s essential to recognize that. However, if you feel concerned about your child’s speech and language development, seeking help sooner rather than later is crucial to prevent possible developmental delays’ occurrence.

For most babies, an 18-month-old should know about 10-20 words. However, if you observe red flags indicating developmental delay, it’s crucial to seek help from a qualified professional. Early intervention programs offered by NHS may support your child’s language development, and your involvement in supporting your child’s communication skills can positively impact their future outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Many Words an 18 Month Old Should Say in the UK

Q: Is there a specific number of words an 18 month old should say?

A: While there is no specific number of words an 18 month old should say, most children at this age can say between 10 to 20 words.

Q: Is it normal for my child to not be saying many words at 18 months?

A: It is normal for some children to be slower to develop their language skills than others. However, if you have concerns about your child’s development, consult your doctor or health visitor.

Q: What are some ways I can encourage my child’s language development?

  • Talk to your child frequently and in simple sentences.
  • Read books together.
  • Sing songs and nursery rhymes together.
  • Play word games, such as “I Spy.”

Q: Will being bilingual affect my child’s language development?

A: No, being bilingual does not negatively affect language development. In fact, many bilingual children may have more advanced language skills than their monolingual peers.

Q: Should I be concerned if my child is only saying a few words at this age?

A: Not necessarily. As long as your child is understanding what you say and seems to be making progress in their language development, there is usually no cause for concern. However, again, if you have concerns, consult your doctor or health visitor.

Q: When should my child start putting words together into phrases and sentences?

A: Most children start putting words together into phrases and sentences by the time they are 2 years old.

Q: Should I seek professional help if I am concerned about my child’s language development?

A: Yes, if you have concerns about your child’s language development, it is always best to seek professional help. Your doctor or health visitor can refer you to a specialist for an assessment, if necessary.

keys takeaways

How Many Words Should an 18 Month Old Say UK?

An 18-month-old child should say at least 20 words, including names of people and objects they see on a daily basis. Lack of vocabulary at this age could signal a developmental delay or hearing problem. However, it’s important to remember that every child develops at their own pace.

  1. By 18 months, a toddler should be able to point to objects, identify body parts, and respond to simple questions with either “yes” or “no”.
  2. If concerned about your child’s speech development, speak with a medical professional for additional guidance and potential referrals for speech therapy.
  3. The best way to encourage speech development is to talk and read frequently with your child, pointing out new words and reinforcing new vocabulary.
  4. Overall, while there is an expectation for language development at this age, remember that each child is unique and develops differently at their own pace.

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