Speech and Language Developmental Milestones

Please use the following information as a personal reference as your child grows and develops. Being aware of the typical receptive (understanding) and expressive (talking) language milestones will ensure early detection of any possible delays. Early language intervention has been proven to significantly increase the effectiveness of therapy.

Birth to 3 months – Your infant should

Understanding:

  • Startle to loud sounds
  • Quiet or smile when spoken to
  • Recognize your voice
  • Increase or decrease sucking behavior in response to sound

Vocalizations/Talking:

  • Make pleasure sounds
  • Produce different cries for different needs
  • Smile when he/she sees you

4-6 months – Your infant should

Understanding:

  • Move eyes in direction of sounds
  • Respond to changes in the tone of your voice
  • Respond to toys that make sound
  • Pay attention to music

Vocalizations/Talking:

  • Babble sounds which are more speech like
  • Produce /m/ /b/ /p/
  • Laugh
  • Vocalize pleasure and displeasure sounds
  • Make gurgling sounds when left alone or when playing with you

7-12 months – Your infant should

Understanding:

  • Enjoy games: peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake
  • Search for sounds
  • Listen when spoken to
  • Recognize words for common objects
  • Begin to respond to requests: “sit down” “come here”

Vocalizations/Talking:

  • Babble long and short strings
  • Use words or vocalizations besides cries to gain attention
  • Use gestures to communicate
  • Imitate speech sounds
  • Have 1 or 2 words (may not be completely intelligible)

One to two years – Your toddler should be able to

Understanding:

  • Identify a few body parts
  • Follow simple directions
  • Listen to simple stories
  • Identify a few pictured objects in books

Talking:

  • Consistently gain words each month
  • Ask one or two word questions (i.e. “where daddy?”)
  • Combine two words (i.e. “more juice”)
  • Use several consonant sounds at the beginning of words

Two to three years – Your toddler should be able to

Understanding:

  • Understand differences in meanings (i.e. wet/dry, up/down, on/off)
  • Follow two step directions (i.e. “go to your room and get your shoes”)
  • Attend to and follow stories

Talking:

  • Label most objects and activities
  • Combine two and three words to communicate wants/needs and to ask questions
  • Use the sounds: /k/ /g/ /f/ /t/ /d/ /n/
  • Produce speech that is intelligible to familiar listeners
  • Ask for or show objects to others by naming them

Three to four years – Your child should be able to

Understanding:

  • Hear you when you call from another room
  • Hear television or radio at same level of other family members
  • Answer simple “who”, “what”, “where”, and “why” questions

Talking:

  • Recall previous events of the day
  • Produce speech intelligible to familiar and unfamiliar listeners
  • Produce many sentences containing four or more words
  • Produce fluent speech without repeating sounds or words

Four to five years – Your child should be able to

Understanding:

  • Attend to story books and answer questions about them
  • Understand the majority of others’ speech at home and school

Talking:

  • Use sentences containing adjectives/descriptor words
  • Speak about a story without getting off topic
  • Communicate with both peers and adults
  • Produce most sounds appropriately apart from: /l/ /s/ /r/ /v/ /z/ /ch/ /sh/ /th/
  • Produce words that rhyme
  • Name a few letters and numbers
  • Produce speech with appropriate grammar

If you suspect a speech or language delay in your child, a consult and/or evaluation with a speech-language pathologist may be warranted.