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
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
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


2 thoughts on “Speech and Language Milestones

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