Speech and Language Milestones

I wanted to repost the speech and language milestones list from earlier in the year. Since school is in full-swing, you might have questions or concerns about how your child is speaking or using language compared to other children. It's always a good idea to cross-reference what is typical for a certain age versus what is atypical and warrants more concern on your part. As always, if you have concerns about your child's speech and language development, make sure to talk to your pediatrician. They can help make a referral to a speech-language pathologist in your area. Parents know their child best, so if you have questions, schedule a follow-up with a professional.

Here are some general guidelines for speech and language:


Birth – Three Months Cries Makes throaty sounds, goos and gurgles Moves eyes to source of sound and tends to voice

By Three Months Coos in vowel like sounds Squeals and chuckles Maintains eye contact with familiar speaker

By Six Months Babbles with same consonant-vowel syllables (ba-ba) Cries differently when hungry, uncomfortable, tired Attempts to imitate pitch changes in other’s voices

By Nine Months Imitates babbling sounds produced by adults with varied consonant-vowel combinations Uses pitch variations in vocal play Eye contact increases Comprehends “no” and will inhibit to its use Initiates vocalization and uses different vocalizations for different intents

By Twelve Months Uses a wide variety of sounds and jabbers loudly Understands five words in addition to own name Follows one-step directions Points Knows three body parts Hands toy to adults when asked Waves bye-bye May say first words Uses intonation

By Eighteen Months Uses sentence like intonation Understands new words everyday Responds to simple commands without gestures (come here, sit down) Imitates words spoken by others Uses jargon with some true words embedded Says approximately 20 words

By Twenty-four Months Uses more words than jargon Speech is approximately 60% understandable Understands 300 words Responds to familiar requests (get your shoes, find a book) Uses single words to request actions or objects (“Shoe” meaning “Put my shoe on.”) Combines two words consistently (“Daddy work. Doggy go.”) Answers “What’s your name?” Uses some pronouns (I, me, you) and prepositions (on, in) Says 100-200 words but uses fewer words in a core vocabulary

By Three Years Uses all vowels and p, b, m, w, h, consistently and may use t, d, k, g, s Leaves off final sounds Speech is approximately 75% understandable in connected speech Understands 500-900 words Carries out a series of two related commands (Go your bedroom and get your pajamas.) Listens to a 10-20 minute story Identifies ten objects and five body parts Knows in, on, under Uses 2-3 word utterances consistently Uses 200-500 understandable words Names six objects by use Takes conversational turns but changes topic frequently Starts to answer simple questions involving who, what, where Uses doll figures to act out simple themes from own experience Dramatization and imagination begin with realistic props Waits for a turn

By Four Years Adds s, y, ing, l, sh, j to sound repertoire (although not mastered) Speech is almost 100% understandable in connected speech Understands 1500-2000 words Responds to commands involving 2-3 actions or objects Knows “in front of” and “behind” Uses 4-5 word utterances with an 800-1500 spoken vocabulary Names 8-10 pictures States action Tells two events in order of sequence Uses plurals (balls), pronouns (he, she), possessives (baby’s hat), present progressive (is running) Uses complex and compound sentences (and, because) Uses one object to represent another Prefers to play in groups of 2-3 children and chooses companion of own sex Often silly in play and may do things wrong purposely Likes to dress up Uses doll or puppet as participant in play and begins to act out scenes

By Five Years Adds ch, z, th, f, v, zh to sound repertoire Speech is 100% understandable but developmental errors may occur Understands 2500-2800 words Classifies according to form, color, use Knows concepts between, above, below, top, bottom Uses 5-8 word sentences with a spoken vocabulary of 1500-2000 words Defines four words in terms of use Uses “What do…” “Does….” “Did…” questions Tells long story accurately Uses irregular plurals (mice), pronouns (ours, they), possessive pronouns (his, hers) and comparative words (bigger) Shows off dramatically and plans a sequence of pretend events Likes working on projects, cutting out and pasting

By Six Years and Older Almost all consonants mastered Comprehends over 20,000 words Sentences are complete in form and are complex Narratives are more elaborate Uses conversational skills