At what age should I expect my daughter to form words? When should I expect her to be capable of simple sentences?
I doubt you'll find anything approaching a firm and accurate answer. This depends so much on the surroundings, particular child, etc.
For a general guideline, Mayo Clinic suggests that a child is likely to
- Say a few words by 12 months
- Say 8 to 10 words by 18 months
- Use simple phrases and know 50 words by 24 months
They also offer some advice for aiding language development, that worked well for us:
Read to your child. Talk to your child. Sing songs together. Teach your child signs or gestures for common items or phrases. Ask your child questions, and acknowledge your child's responses — even if he or she is hard to understand.
Don't expect anything. Having 5 kids, I'm well on my way towards having my own statistical sample. :-)
15 yo boy - started saying words at 1 year, could speak well before 2.
5 yo boy - pretty much only grunted and pointed at things until over 2 yo then started talking in near perfect sentences. He is now an eloquent speaker in 2 languages.
3.5 yo boy - started saying words at 12 months, made slow but consistent progress until he was speaking fairly well 2 yo. Speaks one language at an average level, the other very little.
18 month twin boy - Says about 15 words now, started at about 16 months. Learning very fast, understands near everything and responds to commands very well in 2 languages.
18 month twin girl - Says about 5-8 words, starting recently. Interacting a bit slower than her twin. Doesn't respond to commands in any language, but that's probably just because she's a girl. :-)
I don't think of speech as a benchmark like crawling and walking. I don't think its any indicator that something is wrong if your child is not talking well into 2-3 yo. I've seen some kids that don't talk until three, but now understand and speak very well at 6-7 years old. The thing is that some kids understand, but just decide that they don't want to speak or interact until they're ready. With our kids, this usually seems to go hand-in-hand with their general tendency to be cautious. For example, our 5yo has a very cautious personality, and only does things when he's analyzed and prepared himself. He probably could have spoken complete sentences at 18 months, but chose to wait another 6-8 months.
It depends on many factors
There are all sorts of things that are going to influence the age that your daughter can understand what language is and the mechanics of being able to talk to you. Listening to her parents and understanding them will come before talking, which is why many people investigate 'baby sign' language as an interim step.
Some of the factors that'll influence your child's speech development include:
- Genetics: do you or your partner have any flair for language? Bilingual at all?
- Amount of speech to and around the child. Do you speak to your daughter, in your language (rather than 'baby talk')? I've seen evidence that saying things like 'oos a lickle baybee gooo gooo' isn't helpful as when you talk to another child/adult you never use those words or constructs.
- Do you have the radio or TV on so that your child can hear other people talking?
- Does your daughter interact with other children, possibly of different ages? Seeing the benefits of being able to talk (other children can negotiate, get what they ask for rather than what they're given, give feedback, etc) will provide a clear incentive.
However, it doesn't really matter when she talks. If she's not making any noises at all by 18 months, go talk to a paediatrician, but full sentences could take up to 3 years old.
The UK National health service suggests that at 12-18 months a child:
"May start to say words and understand them"
The emphasis is mine, with children there is never a standard answer.
This is a difficult question. It depends on the language spoken, but also on the individual. Some children start talking at the age of 1, others need more time. We have two identical-twin daughters and here it is clearly visible. Daughter 1 was early in talking the second in walking. Both caught up on each other in the following months. I have a cousin who did not say a word before 2 and half, but when he started talking it was immediatly in sentences.