Developmental Language Milestones

listening comprehensionBirth to 3 months

  • startles when he or she hears loud sounds
  • coos and makes pleasure sounds
  • when spoken to, calms down or smiles
  • recognizes your voice and quiets if crying
  • has different crying sounds for various needs
  • when feeding, increases or decreases sucking in response to sound
  • smiles when he or she sees you

4-6 months

  • moves eyes in direction of sound
  • becomes aware of toys that make sounds
  • pays attention to music
  • reacts to changes in the tone of your voice
  • babbles chains of sounds, which start to become more speech-like and contain many different sounds such as p, b, m
  • giggles and laughs
  • babbles when excited or unhappy
  • makes different gurgling or babbling sounds when left alone and when playing with you
  • responds to his or her own name

7 months to 1 year

  • enjoys playing peek-a-boo and patty-cake
  • turns and looks in the direction of sounds
  • listens when spoken to
  • understands words for common items such as “bowl”, “toy”, or “milk”
  • responds to requests (“come here”)
  • babbles to get and keep attention
  • uses simple gestures or actions to communicate such as pulling on arm or waving goodbye
  • imitates different speech sounds (“t”, “k”, “n”)
  • has 1 or 2 words by first birthday (“bye”, “kitty”, “dada”, “mama”), although sounds may sound distorted or may not be clear

1-2 years

  • knows and can point to a few basic body parts when asked (“arm”, “leg”, “head”)
  • understands “no”
  • follows simple commands and understands simple questions (“bring me your shoe”, “hug the teddy bear”, “where’s your doll?”)
  • listens to simple stories, songs and rhymes
  • points to pictures in a book when named
  • brings objects from another room when asked
  • makes familiar animal sounds
  • uses up to 50 words by 2 years of age, including names
  • says more words every month
  • uses some one or two word questions (“where ball?” “help please?” “more juice?”)
  • puts two words together (“kitty bye-bye”, “no juice”, “mommy toy”) to make wants known
  • uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words

2 to 3 years

  • understands differences in meaning (“cold-hot”, “in-out”, “big-little”, “up-down”)
  • follows two step directions (“get the doll and put it on the bed”)
  • listens to and enjoys stories for longer periods of time
  • has a word for almost everything
  • uses two or three word phrases to talk about and ask for things
  • uses k, g, t, d, and n sounds
  • speaks in a way that is understood by family and friends
  • names objects to ask for them or to name them
  • asks “why?”
  • may stutter on some sounds or words

3 to 4 years

  • hears you when you call from another room
  • hears the radio or television at the same sound level as other family members
  • understands some words for colors such as red, blue and green
  • understands some words for shapes such as circle or square
  • understands words for family members such as brother, grandmother and aunt
  • answers simple “who?”, “what?”, “where?” and “why?” questions
  • talks about activities at daycare, preschool or friends’ homes
  • uses sentences with four or more words
  • speaks easily without having to repeat syllables or words
  • people outside the family usually understand child’s speech
  • asks “when?” and “how?” questions
  • uses pronouns like I, you, me, we, they
  • uses some plural words such as toys, birds, and buses

4 to 5 years

  • understands words for order, such as first, next and last
  • understands words for time such as yesterday, today and tomorrow
  • follows longer directions, like “put your pajamas on, brush your teeth and pick out a book”
  • follows classroom directions like “draw a circle around something you eat”
  • pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it
  • hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school
  • uses sentences that give many details
  • tells stories that stay on topic
  • communicates easily with other children and adults
  • says most sounds correctly except for a few (l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, and th)
  • uses rhyming words
  • names some letters and numbers
  • uses adult grammar
  • knows his or her address
  • can count to 10
  • understands “same” and “different”

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