2 babies laughing together

Speech Milestones

Birth to 3 Months
  • Startles to a sudden loud noise
  • Be soothed or calmed by your voice
  • Turns head toward you when you speak
  • Appears to smile or otherwise focus on voices when spoken to
  • Wakes up in response to loud sounds
  • Coos, gurgles, and makes other pleasant “baby sounds”
  • Mimics facial expressions (sticks tongue out when you do so repeatedly)
  • Has different cries for different circumstances (hunger, discomfort)
  • Start reading simple board books to your baby
  • Sing songs to your baby (let them see your mouth move)
  • Become aware of your baby's moods and diffferent sounds
3 to 6 Months
  • Turns or looks toward source of a new sound
  • Responds to changes in tone of voice
  • Enjoys toys that make sounds (rattles, etc.)
  • Begins to repeat simple sounds (aah, ba-ba, ooh)
  • Makes razzing or bubble sounds, even when eating
  • May squeal or shriek
  • Begin using simple sign language with  your baby (more, all done, eat, sleep, bye bye)
  • Imitate movements, faces and sounds your baby makes so that you have a "conversation"
6 to 10 months
  • Responds to his/her name
  • Responds to environmental sounds (door bell, telephone, etc.) even if not loud
  • Begins responding to requests such as “come here”
  • Looks at objects when someone speaks about them (look at the birdy, etc.)
  •  Knows words to common items (bottle, diaper, etc.)
  • Babbles to self, even when alone
  • Babbling may sound "speech-like" in tone
  •  May begin to sign common words (milk, all done)
  • Expresses preferences clearly, if still nonverbally
  • Continue signing
    Sing “interactive” play songs (itsy-bitsy spider, wheels on the bus, I’m a little teapot) to your baby
  •  Talk about what you are doing while you do it (I'm washing your hair, next we'll do your arms).
10 to 15 Months
  • Enjoys games like peek-a-boo
  • Can follow simple (one-step) commands accompanied by gestures
  • Plays with her voice, taking pleasure in changing sounds
  • Points to familiar objects or people when asked to
  • Imitates simple sounds
  • Uses at least one word meaningfully
  • Imitate sounds and words your child says
  • Ask simple questions while reading: who's that? where's the duck?
  • Keep reading
15 to 18 Months
  • Follows simple commands (give me your toy) without being shown
  • Can point to some body parts when asked (Where’s your nose?)
  • Uses 2 or 3 word phrases to make requests or describe something (look doggie, more milk)
  • Talks in what sound like multi-word sentences (meaning may not be intelligible)
  • Talk about common vocabulary during daily routines (body parts while getting dressed, etc)
  •  Label items and actions in the environment
  • Teach your child to point to what they want if they don't know the word.
18 to 24 Months
  • Responds to simple yes/no questions (Are you hungry?)
  • Understands simple phrases (on the table, in your crib)
  • Enjoys being read to
  • Understands you when you call from another room
  • 50 words (pronunciation is unclear)
  • Asks for food by name (yogurt, more milk)
  • Uses possessive pronouns (mine)
  • Regularly uses 2-3 word phrases
  • Makes animal sounds (ruff, moo)
  • Read together
  • Have your child point to pictures in books
  • Encourage child to use their words for communication
  • Model good language for child
  • Talk about what's going on around you
24 to 36 Months
  • Can choose things by size (Show me the little block)
  • Understands “not now” and “no more”
  • Can follow two step commands (get your toy and come here)
  • Understands many action words (run, jump)
  • Vocabulary of 250 to 1000 words
  • Speech is clearer (strangers may not yet understand due to dropped word endings, etc.)
  • Uses simple pronouns correctly (me, you, her)
  • Uses descriptive words (big, happy)
  • Knows some spatial words (on, in)
  • Uses 3 or more words in a sentence
  • Answers simple questions
  • Begins to use or experiment with past tense (I jumped) and plurals
  • Uses inflection when asking questions
  • Don't correct pronunciation or grammar, but model correct versions. (i.e., child: "I do'ed it!" parent: "yes, you did it!")  
  • Describe in detail events that happen to the child throughout the day. "First, we'll go to the store, then we'll go to the playground. Maybe you'll go on the swings."
  • Expand on what your child says without expecting them to repeat. So, your child says: "bird!" You say, "yes, I see the bird too. It's a pretty red bird that says 'tweet tweet'".
3 to 4 Years
  • Answers a variety of simple "wh" questions (who, what doing, where)
  • Understands a sequence of events described to him/her (first we'll ___, then we'll ___)
  • Understands most of what is said to him/her about events in immediate past, present, future that are directly related to child.
  • Understands terms like "yesterday" "later today" and "tomorrow"
  • Points to pictures in books based on verbal description (which cat is sleeping?)
  • Can identify colors
  • Can accurately group items (animals vs. food vs. clothing)
  • Strangers can understand most of what your child says
  • Has fun with language (reacts to silly questions like is there a giraffe on your bed?)
  • Can begin to express ideas or feelings
  • Uses consonants in beginning, middle and end of words (may not pronounce all consonant combinations clearly, but attempts to do so)
  • Uses –ing verbs (walking, eating, etc.)
  • Play with sounds and language: make silly word combinations
  • Continue reading!
  • Respond to his/her comments with encouragement for more: "really? what then?"
  • Label feelings for your child: "when you fell down you really felt hurt and mad"
  • Cook with your child to work on sequencing and vocabulary.
4 to 5 Years
  • Understands most of what is said to him/her about recent past, present and future events.
  • Understands terms like "next week" and "in the fall"
  • Knows a variety of colors and shapes, including some less common ones (light blue, diamond)
  • Can answer why questions
  • Follows complex directions, (after you get your shoes, get your backpack)
  • Understands complex questions
  • Understands more complex spatial descriptors (next to, behind)
  • Speech is reliably intelligible to family & strangers (long/complex words may still be mispronounced)
  • 1500 word vocabulary
  • Defines words
  • Uses some irregular past tense verbs (ran, fell)
  • Can describe how to do something (how to make a sandwich, paint a picture)
  • Listen to and enjoy unique thoughts of your child
  • Ask open-ended questions: what do you think will happen? 
  • Provide definitions for new words /concepts
  • Expose to a variety of activities with new vocabulary
  • Encourage your child to "read" and "write" by drawing pictures and dictating or scribbling a "story", making a shopping list, etc.
5 Years
  • Understands the majority of what is said to him/her AS WELL AS what is said AROUND him/her.
  • Learns new vocabulary easily
  • Recognizes certain letters
  • May know some letter sounds
  • May recognize some words in context
  • 2000+ word vocabulary
  • Can explain & follow at least three-stage sequences (what happened first, second, third, etc.)
  • Sentences can be more than eight words long
  • Actively uses imagination to tell stories
  • Uses multiple descriptors (including comparative references) to describe an object
  • Engages in elaborate conversation with adults and peers
  • Pay attention to your language and topics around your child
  • Explain new vocabulary clearly and concisely
  • For complex topics (sex, race, etc) answer the question that the child asks (not the one you think was buried underneath)
  • Talk TO your child -- he/she is probably good company.
  • Point out signs in the environment that your child may recognize (stop, street signs, restaurants)