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Speech and Language Development


Normal Speech and Language Development of Children Ages 0-7

Below you will find some helpful information that you can use to gauge the development of your child. These milestones are general and small fluctuations may be seen. When a child is missing a number of the given milestones an evaluation by a Speech-Language Pathologist is recommended.

At age 0 to 3 months, your child . . .


  • Exhibits an undifferentiated cry
  • Produces some vowels such as ah, eh, uh
  • Produces a small variety of non-cry sounds
  • Exhibits a differentiated cry Is cooing/gurgling
  • Produces single syllables
  • Begins blowing bubbles
  • Has a startle response to loud sounds
  • Visually tracks while on back
  • Moves eyes toward a sound and attends to a voice
  • Fixes gaze on spoon or bottle
  • Watches light
  • Briefly holds and inspects 2 objects (1-4 months)
  • Puts objects in mouth
  • Briefly looks at people
  • Follows moving person with eyes
  • Hands are predominantly closed
  • No reaching/grasping objects
  • Opens/closes hand when touched
  • Quiets in response to sound especially speech
  • Reacts to paper or cloth on face
  • Raises head when face down
  • Smiles/coos in response to another smile/voice (1 – 4 months)
  • Excites when a caregiver approaches (1-4 months)
  • Is aware of strangers and unfamiliar places (1 – 4 months)
  • Cries differently when tired, hungry, or in pain (1 – 4 months)

At age 3 to 6 months, your child . . .


  • Begins to babble with double syllables, nasal tone, and/or using /m/
  • Begins to vocalize pleasure and displeasure
  • Stops vocalizing when an adult enters
  • Begins to self-initiate vocal play
  • Coos, chuckles, gurgles, and laugh.
  • Babbles to self, others, and objects
  • Babbles with pitch and inflection changes
  • Vocally expresses eagerness
  • Anticipates feeding when sees the bottle
  • Watches movement patterns
  • Smiles at the sight of a face
  • Recognizes spoon or bottle
  • Laughs when playing with objects
  • Raises head and chest when on stomach
  • Puts objects in mouth
  • Watches his/her hands
  • Plays actively when propped up for 10-15 minutes
  • Looks intently at, reaches for and then shakes a rattle when put in hand
  • Pays attention to cube on table
  • Generally inspects surroundings
  • Smiles and touches mirror image
  • Increases activity at the sight of a toy
  • Works for a toy out of reach
  • Head control established at midline
  • Bangs with object held in hand
  • Transfers object held in hand
  • Rolls over both ways

At age 6 to 9 months, your child . . .


  • Uses m, n, t, d, b, p in babbling multiple syllables
  • Songlike intonational patterns
  • Uses wide variety of sound combinations
  • Imitates intonation and speech sounds in his/her won repertoire
  • Reduplicative babbling begins – bababa
  • Attempts to imitate gestures
  • Understands parental gestures
  • Looks at some common objects and family members when named
  • Understands “no” – stops on command
  • Interest in pictures maintained for full minute while they are named
  • Searches for partially hidden objects (4-8 months)
  • Bangs objects together
  • Performs many actions on objects – shakes, tears, slides, mouths, rubs
  • Imitates ringing of bell
  • Grasps a dangling object
  • Explores a toy with fingers and mouth
  • Sits without support
  • Uses finger and thumb to pick up small objects
  • Drinks from a cup
  • Uses hands and eyes together
  • Imitates arm movements
  • Bangs spoon on a table
  • Pulls self to a standing position
  • Crawls on stomach
  • Initiates vocalizing to another person
  • Enjoys being played with (4-8 months)
  • Different vocalization for anger, contentment, hunger, etc.
  • Recognizes familiar people (9 months)
  • Imitates familiar sounds and actions

At age 9 to 12 months, your child . . .


  • Vocalizes and jabbers loudly using a wide variety of sounds and intonational patterns
  • Uses most sounds (consonant and vowel) in vocal play
  • May acquire the first true word any where from 10-18 months old
  • Begins to combine different syllables during play
  • Will give a block, toy, or object on request
  • Understands and follows simple commands regarding an action
  • Looks in a correct place for out of sight toys
  • Turns head when someone says his/her name
  • Understands the meaning of hot
  • Indicates displeasure when a desired object is removed
  • Gestures and/or vocalizes to indicate wants/needs
  • Begins to play with toys appropriately
  • Deliberately drops toys and watches them fall
  • Plays ball with another person
  • Puts objects in and takes objects out of a large container
  • Holds a crayon and imitates a scribble
  • Takes a few steps with help
  • Stacks rings on pegs
  • Throws objects intentionally
  • Shouts to attract attention
  • Shakes head “no” and pushes object away
  • Waves “bye” A
  • ffectionate to familiar people
  • Begins directing other people through pushing, pulling, etc.
  • Holds arms up to be picked up
  • Stranger awareness begins
  • Participates in pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo, etc.
  • Begins to repeat actions when laughed at
  • Reaches to request an object
  • Begins to imitate new sounds and/or actions

At age 1 to 1 ½ years, your child . . .


  • Uses sentence-like intonations called jargon
  • Uses most vowels and consonants in jargon
  • Omits final consonants and some initial consonants
  • Basically unintelligible (not understandable) with the exception of a few sounds
  • Words produced with a consonant-vowel (CV) combination such as bo/boat
  • Accurately imitates some words
  • Follows simple one-step commands
  • Points to recognized and wanted objects
  • Begins to “possess” specific objects
  • Points to one to three body parts on command
  • Identifies two or more pictures from a group
  • Perceives others’ emotions
  • Uses three to 20 words of which 50% are nouns
  • Average length of a response is one or two words
  • Vocalizes with gestures
  • Says “all gone” and “more”
  • Answers question “what’s this?”
  • Engages mostly in solitary play
  • Participates in continual walking activities and begins to run (stiff and awkwardly)
  • Scribbles spontaneously with a crayon
  • Can remove mittens, socks, hat, and can unzip a zipper
  • Beginning of problem solving (opening doors, reaching high places)
  • Imitates many actions such as sweeping and combing hair
  • Pulls or carry/holds toys
  • Very rapid attention shifts
  • Brings object to show an adult
  • May begin to use word approximations to request objects or attention
  • Says “bye” and a few other ritual words which may include “hi”, “thank you”, and “please”
  • Protests by saying “no”, shaking head, or pushing toy away
  • Comments on object/action by directing someone’s attention through pointing and vocalizing/word approximations
  • Answers simple what questions with a word approximation (may be unintelligible)
  • Acknowledges the speech of another by looking at them, vocally responding, or repeating the word
  • Teases, scolds, or warns with a word approximation

At age 1-1/2 to 2 years, your child . . .


  • Uses mostly words, jargon usually gone by about age 2
  • Approximately 50 recognizable words
  • Asks questions by a rising inflectional pattern
  • Improvement of intelligibility – about 65% intelligible by age 2
  • Appearance of words produced with a CVC pattern such as hot
  • Uses names of most familiar objects
  • Either uses the animal name or sound
  • Verbalizes toilet needs (closer to 2) either before, during, or after the act
  • Identifies and names at least 5 pictures by age 2
  • Says own name upon request
  • Verbalizes immediate experiences
  • Combines two words into phrases and may use three- to four-words
  • Begins to use some verbs and adjectives 1/3 of utterances are nouns
  • Comprehends about 300 words
  • Listens to a story and pictures as they are being named
  • Points to five body parts or more
  • Responds appropriately to yes/no questions
  • Discriminates food from other objects
  • Follows directions using one or two spatial concepts (i.e. on/in)
  • Negation used in the form of “no” (no bed)
  • Possessive emerging (daddy car)
  • Refers to self with pronoun and name (me Kurt)
  • Plays near others but not with them (parallel play)
  • Talks to self as he/she plays
  • Has little interest in what others say and do but gives hugs, pushes, pulls, grabs, and defends rights by pulling hair and kicking
  • May not ask for help
  • Strings beads
  • Puts blocks in a wagon instead of building with them
  • Relates action to another object like combing a doll’s hair
  • Likes to play with play dough
  • Less rapid attention shifts
  • Names objects in front of others
  • Says ‘what’s this’ to elicit attention
  • Begins using single and two words to command (“more”), indicate possession (“mine”), and express problems (“owie”)
  • Participates in increased verbal turn-taking

At age 2 to 2 ½ years, your child . . .


  • Should be understood about 70% of the time
  • Might leave off final sounds in words
  • Might substitute one consonant for another
  • Understands about 500 words
  • Can listen to a short story
  • Can follow two directions at a time
  • Uses about 200 words
  • Can answer “where” and “what ? doing” questions
  • Uses two pronouns correctly
  • Uses “in” and “on”
  • Combines three to four words in a short sentence

At age 2 ½ to 3 years, your child . . .


  • Should be understood about 80% of the time
  • Can use these sound in words: p m n w h
  • Understands about 900 words
  • Can listen to a 20 minute story
  • Understands in, on, under, big, little
  • Matches colors and shapes
  • Uses about 500 understandable words
  • Answers simple yes/no questions
  • Answers simple who, what, why where, how many questions
  • Asks simple questions
  • Begins to use “is” and more pronouns
  • Verbally express their emotions
  • Uses words to get your attention
  • Uses language in imaginative ways
  • Has short conversations

At age 3 to 3 ½ years, your child . . .


  • Uses final consonants in words most of the time
  • Can be understood by you all of the time
  • Understands about 1,200 words
  • Understands the concepts: in front, behind, hard/soft, rough/smooth, circle, square,
  • Follows simple two step directions
  • Uses about 800 words
  • Answers simple “how” Asks “what” and “who” questions
  • Labels or states actions Uses “is”, “are”, and “am” in sentences
  • Combines 4 and 5 words in sentences
  • Is beginning to play cooperatively with peers Is beginning to share

At age 3 ½ to 4 years, your child . . .


  • Uses the following consonants correctly: b d k g f y
  • Can be understood by an unfamiliar listener all of the time
  • Understands 1500 to 2000 words
  • Can follow directions involving three actions
  • Is beginning to recognize colors Uses 1000 to 1500 words
  • Tells about two events in order
  • Asks “how”, “why”, and “when” questions
  • Has long, detailed conversations
  • Can tell a story
  • Uses pronouns correctly, he, she, I, you, me, mine
  • Likes to pretend and role play
  • Can be bossy and likes to correct others
  • Beginning to tell jokes and teases others with language

At age 4 to 4 ½ years, your child . . .


  • Should be very easy to understand
  • Understands the concepts: top/bottom, above/below, between
  • Can recognize two to three colors and name one color
  • Can count to 10 Can tell the function of some objects
  • Uses good imaginative play
  • Combines four to seven words in sentences
  • Uses the pronouns, “our”, “they”, and “their”
  • Uses this, that, here, and there

At age 4 ½ to 5 years, your child . . .


  • Uses most consonant sounds consistently but not in all contexts
  • May have difficulty with some consonant blends
  • Understands 2500 to 2800 words
  • Knows the following concepts: heavy/light, loud/soft, like/unlike, long/short
  • Identifies most primary colors
  • Answers simple “when” questions
  • Asks the meaning of words
  • Is able to tell a long story
  • Uses “his” and “her” accurately
  • Uses five to eight words in a sentence
  • Is able to play cooperatively in groups of two to five children
  • Is beginning to develop friendships

At age 5 to 6 years, your child . . .


  • Is using the consonants, t, ing, and l consistently in words
  • Understands 13,000 words
  • Understands opposites
  • Understands the following concepts: yesterday/tomorrow, more/less, some/many, several/few, most/least, before/after, now/later, across, pair
  • Names basic colors
  • Can tell how objects are the same and how they are different
  • Can state the order of objects: 1st, 2nd, 3rd
  • Names the days of the week
  • Uses all pronouns consistently
  • Uses comparatives and superlatives: er and est endings in words
  • Is able to play games by the rules

At age 6 to 7 years, your child . . .


  • Has mastered the following consonants: sh, ch, j,voiceless th ( r, s, z, and voiced th could take until age 8 to master)
  • Understands 20,000 to 26,000 words
  • Understands seasons and concepts of time
  • Can state personal information, address, phone, etc.
  • Can answer “why” questions Uses “have” and “has” correctly most of the time
  • Can tell a story with a well developed plot and characters in sequence
  • Uses irregular plurals with more consistency
  • Can spend hours on one activity
  • Enjoys spending more time alone in play
  • Enjoys games and funny books

Some information taken from the Speech and Language Development Chart by ProEd.

Remember these ages are approximations; there is always an average range. If you have questions and concerns please call the Speech Therapist as listed by school. Speech, Language & Motor Development Milestones KidsHealth


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