Infants show shifting patterns of visual engagement to faces over the first years of life. To explore the adaptive implications of this engagement, we collected eye-tracking measures on cross-sectional samples of 10–25-month-old typically developing toddlers (TD;N = 28) and those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD;N = 54). Concurrent language assessments were conducted and relationships between visual engagement and expressive and receptive language were analyzed between groups, and within ASD subgroups. TD and ASD toddlers exhibited greater mouth- than eye-looking, with TD exhibiting higher levels of mouth-looking than ASD. Mouth-looking was positively associated with expressive language in TD toddlers, and in ASD toddlers who had acquired first words. Mouth-looking was unrelated to expressive language in ASD toddlers who had not yet acquired first words.