The numbers vary, but by age two a spoken vocabulary of at least 50 words is the expected. Some children say well more than a 100 which is great, while those with a vocabulary in the area of 25 are considered a “late talkers.”
Aside from the just the numbers, other things to consider when considering the health of a child’s speech should include:
The clarity of speech
Is your child’s speech easy to understand? Are there missing sounds misarticulations? Does your child speak well with peers? What percent of your child’s words are clear?
Does your child exhibit good eye contact when speaking or listening? Is there a tendency to shy away and avoid looking at others.
Comfort level when talking
How comfortable is your child when speaking? Do they avoid speech tasks, or prefer other means of communication e.g. will just get an item vs. asking for it. Do they look away and remain quiet when asked to name an object or respond to a simple question. Do they appear frustrated when asked to talk?
How well does your child respond to spoken directions? If you ask “please get me your shoes?”, “Do you want milk or juice?” Do they act/respond appropriately?
How speech and language gains trend over a period of weeks and months. Are their more sounds, words, phrases said? Does progress appear steady? Do new sounds/words regularly occur? Does the development path seem flat?
If anything pointed out here raises a concern, discussing the matter with your pediatrician, early intervention center, local speech therapist, or school district may be a good idea.
Kids differ widely in the way they acquire speech and language. The first thirty-six months are critical to speech and language acquisition. They form the foundation for the learning that will come after. The good news is there are services available which can help and often a little push may be all that’s needed.