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Typical Language Developmental Milestones

Children grow and develop speech and language skills at different rates. While children are individual in their rate of progress; each will follow a set of predictable milestones along the way. You may want to seek out an initial consultation/ evaluation if your child isn't meeting the milestones for speech/ language listed below.

Keep in mind that each child is unique and develops skills differently. 

Birth- 3 months:

Most infants will:

  • Respond to speech by looking at the speaker

  • Respond differently to the voice of a parent than to other voices

  • React to changes in a speaker's tone, pitch, volume, and intonation

  • Respond differently to their home language than to another language

  • Communicate with bodily movements, by crying, babbling, and laughing

  • Attempt to imitate vowel sounds

3 months- 6 months:

Babies love to have "conversations."

  • Exchange sounds, facial expressions, or gestures with a parent or caregiver

  • Listen to conversations

  • Repeat some vowel and consonant sounds

6 months- 9 months:
Vocalizations increase.

  • Begin repetitive babbling (deaf children also start to babble with their hands)

  • Associate gestures with simple words and two-word phrases, like "hi" and "bye-bye"

  • Use vocal and non-vocal communication to express interest and influence others

9 months- 12 months:
Children are getting ready to talk. Around the first birthday, language production greatly increases.

  • Understand the names of familiar people and objects

  • Show their understanding by responding with body language (pointing) and facial expressions

  • Say a few words

  • Understand simple repetitive commands, such as: responding to a firm "no" by stopping what they are doing



1- 2 years:
Begin to learn many new words and use simple phrases. 

  • Understand many words, as well as simple phrases and directions ("Drink your milk")

  • Follow 2 step simple directions

  • Respond correctly (mostly pointing or showing) when asked simple "where?" questions

  • Say a few words clearly, along with a few dozen additional words that family members can understand.

  • Will correctly understand a few prepositions such as "on," "in," or "under."

  • Many can say "more" and "all gone."

  • From about 18 months, begin learning about 9 new words a day

  • Use "my" or "mine" to indicate possession; begin to use "me," "I," and "you"

2-3 years: 
Both understanding and use of language develop more rapidly at this stage. 

  • Join familiar words into phrases

  • Begin to use adverbs and adjectives

  • Point to common objects when they are named

  • Name objects based on their description

  • Respond to "what?" and "where?" questions

  • Enjoy listening to stories 

  • Talk about simple events that happened that day 

3-4 years:
Language becomes more complex. 

  • Understood by familiar and unfamiliar listeners, despite some sound errors

  • Use and understand sentences

  • Use more complex grammar, such as plurals and past tense

  • Understand sentences involving time concepts (for example, "Grandma is coming tomorrow") 

  • Understand size comparisons such as big and small

  • Follow 2-4 step related directions

  • Sing a song and repeat at least one nursery rhyme

4-5 years: 
Use language to converse and exchange information. 

  • Retell a story (but may confuse facts)

  • Combine thoughts into one sentence

  • Ask "when?" "how?" and "why?" questions

  • Use words like "can," "will," "should," and "might"

  • Properly use "because" and "so"

  • Follow three unrelated commands appropriately

  • Understand comparatives like loud, louder, loudest

  • Listen to long stories (but may misinterpret the facts)

  • Understand sequencing of events when clearly explained (for example, "First we wash our hands, then we sit at the table, and finally we eat our lunch") 


Typical Speech Sound

Developmental Milestones

Children develop at different rates, so there can be a lot of difference from one child to the next and across gender. The sounds listed under each age are typically acquired by 90% of children.

3 years old: 

ALL vowel sounds

/p/: pie

/m/: mom

/w/: want

/h/: house

/b/: baby

/n/: no

/d/: dog

/y/: yes

4 years old:

/k/: kick

/g/: go

/t/: toy

/f/: fast 

5 years old:

/ng/: ring

/j/: jump

6 years old:

/sh/: sheep

/l/: lion

/v/: vet

/ch/: chair

l-blends: blue

7 -8 years old:

/s/: sun

/z/: zebra

s-blends: swim

/th/ voiced: that

/r/: run

r-blends: green

/th/ unvoiced: thin

/zh/: beige

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