When toddler's are learning to talk, it's important to encourage this skill. As parents, we are so good at guessing what our toddlers want that often they have to do very little to get their needs met. But when it comes to encouraging language development, waiting for communication is very important. When you wait for communication from your toddler, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you'll hear. Teach your child that you have an expectation that they use the words they know to ask for things, instead of getting away with a look or a point. Also, model new and important words for your child so that they are constantly learning words that go with activities and experiences in their life. Then of course, be sure to wait to see if your child will imitate these new words.
It's never too late to change the dynamic between you and your toddler. There may be some confusion when you all the sudden stop responding to every point and gesture from your child and instead start modelling the words you want them to say, but waiting with a look of expectation on your face will eventually help them learn to start saying words to get their wants and needs met.
If your child is having an especially difficult time learning to imitate you between 12 and 18 months, consider seeking out a Speech-Language Pathologist for more support.