Speech & Language Milestones (Birth to 5)
Birth to 3 Months
Startles to loud sounds
Quiets or smiles when spoken to
Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying
Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound
Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)
Cries differently for different needs
Smiles when sees you
Four to Six Months
Moves eyes in direction of sound
Responds to change in tone of your voice
Notices toys that make sounds
Pays attention to music
Babbling sounds more speech-like with many consonants including p, b, m
Chuckles and laughs
Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
Makes gurgling sounds
Coos back and forth with you
7 Months to 1 Year
Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
Turns and looks in direction of sounds
Listens when spoken to
Recognizes words for common items like "cup," "ball," "book," or "milk"
Begins to respond to request (e.g., "want up?" "come here")
Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as "tata pohpoh meemee"
Uses speech or non-crying sounds to get and keep attention
Uses gestures to communicate (lifting arms to be picked up, waving, patting)
Imitates different sounds
Has one or two words (mama, ball, hi, woof, dada, up)
1 - 2 Years
Points to a few body parts when asked
Follows simple commands and understand simple questions ("give a kiss" "pat the dog" "roll the ball" "give it to me")
Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes
Points to picture in a book when named
Says more words every month
Uses some one- or two- word questions ("what that?" "where ball?" "go bye?")
Put two words together ("no cookie" "more milk" "baby go")
Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words
2 - 3 Years
Understands differences in meaning ("go-stop, "in-on," "big-little," "up-down")
Follows two step directions ("get your car and put it in the bag")
Listens to and enjoys hearing stories for longer periods of time
Has a word for almost everything
Uses two- or three- words to talk about and ask for things
Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds
Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time
Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them
May stutter on words or sounds
3 - 4 Years
Hears you when you call from another room
Hears television or radio at the same loudness level as other family members
Understands words for some colors
Understands words for some shapes
Understands words for family members (e.g., "gammy, brother, etc.)
3 years to 4 years
Talks about activities at school or at friends' homes
Talks about what happened during the day. Uses about 4 sentences at a time.
People outside of the family usually understand what the child is saying
Answers simple "who?" "what?" and "where?" questions
Asks when and how questions
Says rhyming words like cat-hat
Uses pronouns like I, you, me, we, and they
Uses some plural words (e.g., "toys, balls, puppies")
Uses a lot of sentences that have 4 or more words
Usually talks easily without repeating syllables or words
4 - 5 Years
Understands words for order like "first, next, and last"
Understands words for time like "yesterday, today, and tomorrow"
Follows longer directions like "Put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, and then get your shoes"
Follows classroom directions like "Draw a circle on your paper around something you eat"
Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school
Says all speech in words. May make mistakes on sounds that are harder to say like L, R, TH
Responds to "What did you say?"
Talks without repeating sounds or words most of the time
Names letters and numbers
Uses sentences that have more than 1 action word (e.g., "Today I jumped down and run away."
Keep a conversation going
Talks in different ways depending on the listener and place. May use short sentences with younger children and talk louder outside than inside.