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Home Family Resource Center Speech Language Pathology Speech-Language Milestones
Speech Milestones PDF Print E-mail


Speech and Language Milestones

Birth to 3 months:

Startles to loud sounds

Becomes quiet or smiles when spoken to

Seems to recognize parent/caregivers voice

Increases or decreases sucking in response to sounds

Cries differently when hungry, tired or in pain

Smiles or coos in response to person’s voice or smile


3 -6 months:

Fixes gaze on face/Will look at someone speaking to them

Responds to sounds by trying to locate sound/speaker

Notices toys that make sounds

Makes cooing, gurgling, laughing sounds when left alone or playing with parent

Babbling sounds more speech like with many different sounds like p, b, and m.


6-9 months:

Imitates vocalizing/sounds they hear others make

Enjoys playing social games like peek-a-boo, patty-cake.

Has different sounds they make for different feelings

Recognizes familiar people

Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds: “baba”, “tititti”

May cry if parent leaves the room

Responds consistently to soft speech or sounds

Reaches for a familiar toy/object that’s named

Uses speech or non-crying sounds to get and keep someone’s attention


9-12 months:

Shakes head “no” or pushes an object away

Waves “bye” or “hi”

Indicates what they want clearly by pulling on adult or pointing to the desired object

Imitates new sounds and actions

Shows consistent pattern of 2 syllable babbling that sounds like first words  (mama, baba, dada); may begin saying simple words like these



Begins using single words

Requests objects by saying words, vocalizing or pointing

Uses words such as “hi”, “bye”, “please”, etc.

Will say “no”

Follow simple directions or questions: “Where’s your shoe?”, “Roll the ball”

Listens to stories, music and rhymes



Uses mostly words to communicate

Uses more new words each month

Combining words into simple sentences: “Daddy go”, “More juice”

Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words

May point to a few body parts when asked

Points to pictures in a book when named


2-3 years:

Can follow a two step direction: “Get the book and put it on the table”

Understands differences in meaning (go/stop, up/down, on/off, big/little)

Begins using language in imaginative ways

Have a vocabulary of 50 words

Sentences are usually 2- 3 words, and as they get closer to 3 longer.

Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time

Using language to talk about things, ask for objects and assistance and provide descriptions of activities


3-4 years:

Answers simple “who?”, “what?”, “where?” questions

Talks about activities at school or friends’ homes

People outside family can usually understand child’s speech easily

Uses a lot of sentences with more than 4 words

Talks easily without repeating syllables or words


4-5 years:

Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it

Hears and understands most of what is said at school or home

Uses sentences that give a lot of details

Tells stories that stick to a topic

Communicates easily with most children and adults

Says most sounds correctly except a few like: l, s, r, v, z, j, ch, sh, th

Uses the same grammar as the rest of the family



Drawn from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the NYS Department of Health