Developmental Milestones

The earlier a child's speech and language problems are identified and treated, the less likely it is that problems persist or get worse. Early speech and language intervention can help children be more successul in reading, writing, schoolwork, and interpersonal relationships.

Birth to 3 Months

Speech (Talking)
Language (Hearing & Understanding)
• Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing, etc.) • Startles to sudden/loud sounds
• Cries differently for different needs • Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying
• Smiles when he/she sees you • Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound
• Makes some sounds from the back of the throat • Watches the speaker's mouth

4 to 6 Months

Speech (Talking)
Language (Hearing & Understanding)
• Babbling sounds more speech-like with many
different sounds, including p, b, and m
• Moves eyes in direction of sounds
• Vocalizes excitement and displeasure • Notices toys that make sounds
• Makes gurgling sounds when alone or playing with you • Pays attention to music

7 Months to 1 Year

Speech (Talking)
Language (Hearing & Understanding)
• Babbling has long and short groups of sounds
such as "tata upup bibibi"
• Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
• Uses speech and non-crying sounds to get attention • Recognizes words for common items like "cup", "juice", "book", etc.
• Uses gestures to communicate (waving, holding
arms out to be picked up, etc.)
• Begins to respond to requests like "Come here" or "Want more?"
• Has one or two words (hi, dada, mama) around first
birthday, although sounds may not be clear
• Listens when spoken to

1 to 2 Years

Speech (Talking)
Language (Hearing & Understanding)
• Uses some one or two-word questions such as
"Go bye-bye", "What's that?", etc.
• Can point to a few body parts when asked
• Puts two words together (e.g., "more cookie",
"no juice")
• Understands simple commands and questions like
"Roll the ball, "Where's your shoe?", etc.
• Learns and says more words every month • Points to pictures in a book when named

2 to 3 Years

Speech (Talking)
Language (Hearing & Understanding)
• Often asks for or directs attention to objects
by naming them
• Understands differences in meaning
(e.g., "go-stop", "big-little", "up-down")
• Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds • Follows two requests (e.g., "Get the
book and put it on the table.")
• Asks "why?" • Listens to stories for longer periods of time

3 to 4 Years

Speech (Talking)
Language (Hearing & Understanding)
• Talks about activities at school • Hears you when you call from another room
• People outside of the family can understand
their speech
• Hears the TV or other sounds at the same level as other family members
• Answers simple "who?" "what?" "where?" questions • Understands words for simple colors
• Uses pronouns like "I", "you", "me", "we", "they", etc. • Understands words for simple shapes
• Usually speaks easily without repeating syllables or words • Understands words for family members (brother, aunt, uncle, etc.)

4 to 5 Years

Speech (Talking)
Language (Hearing & Understanding)
• Says all speech sounds in words. Might make small mistakes on sounds that are more difficult to say, like l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, or th • Understands words for ordering, such as "first", "next", "last"
• Responds to "What did you say?" • Understands words for time, such as "yesterday", "today", and "tomorrow"
• Usually talks without repeating sounds or words • Follows longer directions, like "Put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, and then pick a book for story time"
• Uses sentences that have more than one action word. Might make some mistakes, like "Zach got two video games, but I got one" • Follows classroom directions, like "Draw a circle on your paper around something you eat"
• Talks in different ways depending on the listener and place. May talk louder outside than inside • Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school


Skills in speech and language develop in an orderly way, although the pace may vary for different children. Just because your child has not accomplished one or two skills within an age range does not mean he or she has a disorder. However, if you have answered "no" to the majority of items in their age range, seek the advice of a licensed speech pathologist.

The information shown above and more can be found on ASHA's (American Speech-Language and Hearing Association) website.