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

  • Asks why?

  • 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.