Communication Development: By 2 Years

Communication Development: By 2 Years

Here is some information about how children's communication skills usually develop by the age of 2. Below are some activity suggestions to encourage communication from 2 years. Use the language that you are most familiar and comfortable with.


By 2 years, what should my child be able to say and do?


Uses over 50 single words.

Is starting to combine words; for example, "go car", "more drink", "titiro pāpā!"

Asks simple questions; for example, "what that?", "where ball?"

Talks about what they can see and hear right now.


Understands instructions containing 2 keywords; for example, "give your cup to me".

Listens to a simple story.

Enjoys pretend play with their toys; for example, feeding teddy and putting dolly to bed.

Joins in with songs, waiata and nursery rhymes with actions.

Enjoys interactive books such as lift-the-flap books like  'Spot', 'Little Kiwi' and 'Hairy Maclary'.

Is understood by familiar adults most of the time.

What are some tips to help my baby's communication development at 2 years?

  • play with your child, join in with what they are doing or interested in
  • make sure you're face to face when playing with your child – you may need to sit on the floor
  • being face to face allows you to see what your child is interested in – it also helps conversation
  • share stories, songs, waiata and poems with your whole whānau (family)

If you would like to look at anything in more detail, this list of references might be a good starting point.


The content on this page has been produced in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and adapted from Much more than words | Manuka takoto, kawea ake (2014).

This page last reviewed 08 December 2023.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it