Typical Speech & Language Development: Birth to Age 5

As a parent, you may be wondering, how do I know if my child is developing appropriately?  Here’s a great guide to help you know if your child is meeting his speech and language developmental milestones.  You can also check out my post about Speech and Language Warning Signs for more information.

Birth to 1 Year

Birth to 3 Months

  • Is startled by loud noises
  • Recognizes parents’ voices
  • Often quiets and/or smiles when spoken to
  • Coos (soft vowel sounds) when happy
  • May begin to respond with cooing sounds when someone is talking to them
  • Uses different cries for different needs
  • Responds and prefers “parentese” (high pitched baby talk)

4 to 6 Months

  • Makes eye contact
  • Responds/looks in direction of sounds
  • Likes to listen to music
  • Responds to changes in the tone of parents’ voice
  • Begins babbling with some consonant sounds (b, p, m)
  • Laughs
  • Vocalizes when upset or excited
  • May begin to recognize name
  • May say “mama” and “dada”

7 to 12 Months

  • Enjoys simple, repetitive games, such as peek-a-boo and patty cake
  • Listens when spoken to
  • Shows parents toys he is interested in
  • Recognizes common words, such as cup, milk, more, book, etc.
  • Responds to simple requests, such as “Come here” and “Want more?”
  • Babbling includes more consonant sounds
  • Begins to alternate and/or combine consonant sounds when babbling (ie: dada mama, bibibaba)
  • Uses non-crying vocalizations to get attention
  • Begins to use gestures to communicate, such as
    • Waving
    • Holding up arms to indicate he wants to be picked up
    • Using baby sign language (if you have been teaching sign language)
    • Imitating hand actions, such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
  • Imitates different speech sounds
  • Has 1-2 words by first birthday, such as mama, dada, baby, hi, animal sounds, etc.

1 to 2 Years

  • Points to a few body parts when asked
  • Understands and follows simple commands/questions (“Roll the ball,” “Come here,” “Are you hungry?”)
  • Listens to and requests simple songs and rhymes
  • Points to simple pictures in books upon request (ie: animals, babies, toys, etc)
  • Says new words every month
  • Produces some two-word phrases/questions (“What’s that?” “Go bye-bye?” “More cookie.”)
  • Uses many different consonant combinations
  • Answers basic wh questions, such as “What does the cow say?” and “Where is your nose?”

2 to 3 Years

  • Understands basic concepts, such as go/stop, in/out, on/off, big/little, up/down
  • Follows basic 2-step directions (Go find your shoes and put them on)
  • Maintains a longer attention span for stories
  • Regularly uses 2 to 3-word phrases
  • Is able to express his wants and needs
  • Uses k, f, g, t, d, and n sounds
  • Speech is understood by most listeners most of the time
  • Answers simple questions (What is your name?  How old are you?)

3 to 4 Years

  • Hears and responds when you call from another room
  • Answers simple who, what, where, and why questions
  • Talks about activities at school or at a friend’s house
  • Speech is understood by most strangers at least 75% of the time
  • Many sentences contain 4 or more words
  • Talks easily without repeating words or syllables
  • Is able to maintain a short conversation with an adult
  • Follows 3-step directions

4 to 5 Years

  • Pays attention to short stories and can answer simple questions about them
  • Understands most of what is said at home and school
  • Uses long, detailed sentences
  • Tells a simple narrative and stays on topic
  • Communicates easily with other children and adults
  • Says most sounds correctly.  May still have trouble with r, l, s, z, th, ch, sh
  • Is able to rhyme
  • Produces grammatically correct sentences
  • Is able to name some numbers and letters

Until next time,

Aersta Acerson

A Utah Speech Therapist

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2 thoughts on “Typical Speech & Language Development: Birth to Age 5

  1. Pingback: Common Speech & Language Disorders | The Speech Clinic

  2. Pingback: “Core Language Skills Children Should Have Before Starting Kindergarten” from Playing With Words 365 | The Speech Clinic

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