Speech Milestones

Speech and Language Development Milestones

6 months

  • Laughs, gurgles, coos with familiar people
  • Babbles for attention
  • Experiments with sounds /ba/ /da/ /ka/ /ma/
  • Interacts with adults using vocalization and eye contact
  • Searches for a speaker/turns head toward a voice
  • Discriminates between threatening and friendly voices

12 months

  • Says 3-5 words including mama/dada spontaneously
  • Imitates the names of familiar objects
  • Imitates sound combinations
  • Recognizes the names of a few familiar objects
  • Looks at person saying child’s name
  • Follows simple directions occasionally

18 months

  • Says 50+ meaningful words.
  • Uses words to make wants/needs known (ie: “more” “up” “cookie” “juice”)
  • Imitates familiar words overheard in conversation
  • May begin combining words into 2-word phrases (ie: “more cookie”)
  • Identifies 3-5 body parts
  • Brings familiar object from another room on request (ie: “Go get your cup.”)
  • Follows simple directions consistently

24 months

  • Uses 200+ words
  • Combines words into 2 and some 3-word utterances
  • Uses a few early pronouns (ie: I, me, mine)
  • Begins asking ‘wh’ questions
  • Identifies pictures when named by an adult
  • Chooses objects from a large group on request
  • Understands simple questions and commands

30 months

  • Uses 400+ words
  • Refers to self by pronoun consistently
  • Uses 2 sentence types (ie: statement and question)
  • Responds to simple questions using words
  • Answers yes/no questions, but may confuse ‘yes’ versus ‘no’
  • Understands early concepts (ie: big/little, “one”)
  • Parallel play predominates

36 months

  • Uses verb forms and modifiers (adjectives) in phrases/sentences
  • Expresses physical states (ie: hungry, tired, thirsty)
  • Unfamiliar listeners are able to understand child 85% of the time
  • Answers yes/no questions correctly
  • Beginning to understand some prepositions
  • Follows more complex directions
  • Beginning interest in cooperative play with small groups
  • Imaginative play begins to emerge

3-4 years

  • Child is mostly intelligible to unfamiliar listeners in connected speech
  • Consistently combines 4-5 words in sentences and uses complex sentences frequently
  • Begins to use “Is” at the beginning of questions
  • Regular plural forms are consistent; irregular plural forms are emerging
  • Uses simple past tense verbs
  • Participates in detailed conversations
  • Appropriately answers “what if” questions
  • Follows commands involving 3 actions
  • Makes conversational “repairs” when the listener has not understood
  • Plays cooperatively in groups of 2-3 children; chooses companions of own sex
  • Suggests turns and begins to share, but is often bossy in play

4-5 years

  • Knows/comprehends majority of location prepositions
  • Correctly uses “what do…/does…/did…” questions
  • Uses more complex pronouns (our, they, their)
  • Speaks with inflection when describing event or action
  • Uses possessive pronouns
  • Combines 5-8 words in complex sentences
  • Able to re-tell a long story accurately
  • Understands complex descriptive concepts (i.e.: heavy/light, loud/soft)
  • Uses several effective utterance to discuss emotions and feeling
  • Plays in groups of 2-5; friendships become stronger

5-6 years

  • Understands concepts of time (am/pm, yesterday/today)
  • Uses all pronouns correctly and consistently
  • Emerging use of adverbial word endings (slowLY, fastER)
  • Syntax/grammar rules are followed majority of time
  • Plans sequence of pretend events in play and uses props/language to develop a theme
  • Has the majority of consonant sounds mastered and is intelligible to unfamiliar listeners without interpretation (MAY still substitute w/r)
  • Can state similarities and differences of objects