Make a Word List for Your Toddler!

If you have a child between the ages of 10 months to 2.5 years, I recommend you start a fun new tradition: make a word list of the first 100 words your child says.

Yes, the SLP in me is shining through, but I think anyone would enjoy it!

Most moms and dads remember their child’s first word, but how many remember their 10th? Or 50th? Or 100th? For all three of our children, I have their word lists of their first 200+ words.

If you have children between the ages of 1 and 2.5, you you should start a word list for them!

It’s simple. Grab a piece of paper, write, “Word List” at the top, and start listing all of the single words your child says. Put it on your fridge, and then you can easily add more words as your child learns them. Be sure to number the words.


Now, it does not count if the child repeats a word that you say. Sorry. It only counts if the child says it on his/her own, from memory. Repeating words is important, but until the child says it on his/her own and uses the word, it does not count for this spoken word list (but don’t worry–soon, he/she will use the repeated words!).

Is your child learning his/her first 20 or 50 spoken words? Here are some very common ones that you can try to teach to your child:
thank you
bye/ bye-bye
favorite foods

Some of the most powerful words to learn early on are: more/again, please, all done, eat, and drink. Some SLPs say you should teach “again” because it is more accurate of a term, but others say that “more” is a better one to teach because it’s easier to see the shape of the mouth when learning it. You’re not an SLP, so please, teach one or the other (more vs. again). These can help a child meet his/her basic wants and needs in a variety of circumstances.


There was a time when my oldest daughter was not saying many words. At about the age of 21 months, she was only speaking 20 words and signing about 25 “baby signing” words. I had my son when she was 18-months, and it was a bit of a whirlwind after he was born because it was near Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. After New Year’s, life calmed down, and I realized that my daughter was a little behind in her language development. Naturally, I started to work on her language on a daily basis. I tried to focus on just a few words per day to teach her (e.g., look at the cup), to get her to say it in imitation (e.g., say cup), and then to get her to say without help (e.g., What is this? That’s right–cup!). Since I was blessed to stay home 6 days per week at that time (I worked as an SLP at a hospital 1 day/week), I could be around her and hear her words during the day. I could add them to her word list on the refrigerator each day. I loved watching her word list grow! At first, it grew slowly, but after the first month, the words came more quickly.


I used a lot of strategies to help her, such as using simple language when talking with her (1-3 words at a time sometimes), waiting for her to answer my questions, encouraging her (smiled a lot and clapped when she tried to say a word), reading lots of books, playing with her toys, and other strategies. By 24-months, she spoke 250 words and was speaking in simple sentences.

If your child is 1 or 2, go ahead and make a word list. You might be surprised how many words your child knows!

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