Speech and Language Developmental Milestones


Understanding Language Talking
Birth to 3 Months
  • Startles to loud sounds
  • Quiets or smiles when spoken to
  • Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying
  • Looks intently at a speaker
  • Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)
  • Cries differently for different needs
  • Smiles when sees you
4 to 6 Months
  • Turns head to locate source of sound
  • Responds to changes in tone of your voice
  • Notices toys that make sounds
  • Pays attention to music
  • Actively searches to find a person who is talking
  • Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m
  • Chuckles and laughs
  • Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
  • Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with you
  • Vocalizes when talked to, moving arms and legs during vocalizations
7 Months to 1 Year
  • Enjoys games like peek-a-book and pat-a-cake (anticipates what will happen next by laughing, looking, tensing the body)
  • Shakes and bangs objects in play
  • Looks at object or toy that caregiver draws attention to
  • Turns and looks in direction of sounds
  • Interrupts activity when his/her name is called
  • Listens when spoken to
  • Recognizes words for common items like “cup”, “shoe”, “book” or “juice”
  • Begins to respond to requests (e.g. “Come here” or “Want more?”)
  • Resonds to “no-no”
  • Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as “tata upup bibibibi”
  • Vocalizes two different vowel sounds and consonant sounds
  • Uses speech or non-crying sounds to get and keep attention
  • Uses gestures to communicate (waving, holding arms to be picked up)
  • Begins to point to request something or show something to another person
  • Imitates different speech sounds
  • Has one or two words around first birthday, although sounds may not be clear (hi, dog, dada, mama)
1 Year to 1½ Year
  • Uses a variety of objects in play, demonstrates appropriate use of objects in play
  • Follows routines and simple commands (“kiss the baby”, “clean up”, “throw the ball”, “give me the cup”)
  • Identifies familiar objects (ball, train, shoe, spoon)
  • Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words
  • Engages in play with another person for 1-2 minutes
  • Produces a handful of words
  • Imitates a game or social routine (talking on the phone, cooking, puts baby to sleep)
  • Points to an object to show to another person
  • Extends an object to show another person
1½ Year to 2 Years
  • Points to a few body parts when asked
  • Points to pictures in book when named
  • Understands simple questions (“Where’s your shoe?”)
  • Listens to simple stories, songs and rhymes
  • Says more words every month
  • Imitates words
  • Uses words to request, protest, gain attention
  • Uses inflection in his/her voice when talking
  • May begin to put two words together (“more juice”, “no book”, “mommy up”)
2 Years to 2½ Years
  • Can show you his/her clothing (shoes, pants, shirt, hat)
  • Can show actions in pictures (eating, sleeping, cooking)
  • Understands concepts (in, out, on)
  • Understands differences in meaning (go-stop, big-little, up-down)
  • Understands some pronouns (mine, me, you, your)
  • Names pictures in books
  • Uses words for a variety of reasons (request, label, ask for help or for “more”, uses yes/no)
  • Uses 2 word phrases
  • Uses some one- or two- word questions (“Where kitty?”, “Go bye-bye?”, “What’s that?”)
2½ Years to 3 Years
  • Follows two requests (“Get the book and put it on the table”)
  • Listens to and enjoys hearing stories for longer periods of time
  • Understands parts of a whole (the door on the house, the cat’s tail)
  • Understands functions of objects (what you wear, play, ride)
  • Understands more adjectives (big, little, dirty)
  • Has a word for almost everything
  • Uses two- or three- words to talk about and ask for things
  • Uses k, g, f, t, d and n sounds
  • Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time
  • Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them
  • Uses “ing” and plurals
3 to 4 Years
  • Hears you when you call from another room
  • Answers simple “who?”, “what?”, “where?” and “why?” questions
  • Identifies colors
  • Understands categories (animals, foods, clothing)
  • Understands quantitative concepts (more, some, all, the most)
  • Talks about activities at school or at friends’ homes
  • People outside of the family usually understand child’s speech
  • Uses a lot of sentences that have 4 or more words
  • Usually talks easily without repeating syllables or words
4 to 5 Years
  • Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about them
  • Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school
  • Uses sentences that give lots of details (“The biggest peach is mine”)
  • Tells stories that stick to topic
  • Communicates easily with other children and adults
  • Says most sounds correctly except a few like l, s, r, v, ch, sh, th
  • Says rhyming words
  • Names some letters and numbers
  • Uses the same grammar as the rest of the family
Sources: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
Kids Language Center, LLC