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Speech And Language Milestones

Milestone Age Ranges

Make sure to check out the free Milestone Tracker App as well to track your child’s Milestones. It’s completely FREE!

CDCs Milestone tracker app

By 9 To 12 Months Of Age

Receptive Language

  • Responds when you call their name
  • Respond when you say “no”
  • Turn their head and look for a sound when they can’t see what is making it (e.g. a noise coming from inside the cupboard or something behind them)
  • Anticipate what will happen next (e.g. giggle before you take your hands away in a game of peek-a-boo)
  • Look at objects or people when attention is given to them (e.g. pointing to a picture/person or an object such as a plane up in the sky
  • Take your hand when you hold it out and say “let’s go!”
  • Understand common phrases/sayings used in the family

Expressive Language

  • Respond to someone by smiling or shying away
  • Use gestures, such as pointing, pulling or poking things to communicate what they want or need
  • Copy actions and sounds (e.g. clapping hands)
  • Vocalises some vowel like sounds (e.g. ee, oo)
  • Vocalise one or two consonant sounds (e.g. m, d, p)
  • Combine sounds to form a syllable (e.g. da, pa)
  • Seek attention from others around them
  • Play simple turn-taking games like peek-a-boo

By 12mths To 24mths

Receptive Language

  • Identifies common objects and pictures (e.g. points to common pictures in books or picks them up from a group of objects on the floor)
  • Identifies common body parts
  • Responds to “NO”, “wait”, “stop” (even if only briefly!)
  • Understands common simple directions which involve words such as:
    • Give it to me
    • Show it to me
    • Point to it
    • Where is it?
    • Put it down
    • Pick it up
  • Understand simple “what’s that?” questions
  • Play with toys and use objects appropriately in play

Expressive Language

  • Copies and imitates a lot of actions (like jumping, hand actions in nursery rhymes)
  • Copies and imitates lots of common words
  • Holds out toys or other objects to show people
  • Uses vocalizations to ask for things
  • Babble short strings which sounds almost like real words and sentences
  • Uses 50-200 words by 2 years
  • Combining 2 or more words together (e.g. “more ball”, “no mum”, “give me”, “put down truck”)
  • Label photos of objects
  • By 2yrs of age using words more often than gestures
  • Non-family members can understand 50-75% of the child’s speech by 2yrs of age

By 2yrs To 3yrs

Receptive Language

  • Understand describing words
    • Open/close (car doors, doors, cupboards and toys)
    • Wet/dry
    • Big/little
    • Same/different
  • Understand place words
    • In/out
    • On/off
    • Up/down
    • Under/over
    • Top/bottom
  • Understand quantity words
    • More/gone
    • One/lots
    • Empty/full
  • Understand “wh” questions
    • What’s this?
    • Yes/no questions (e.g. “Is this your drink?”)
    • What is the boy/girl doing?
  • Understand the function of an object (e.g. “What do we do with a spoon?”)
  • Have a large noun and verb vocabulary where they can point to a range of pictures
  • Understand gender (e.g. “Is this a boy or a girl?”)
  • Understand negatives (e.g. “Point to the box with no toys”)

Expressive Language

  • Asks lots of questions (e.g. “What is that?”, “Where is it?”)
  • Label a large range of pictures and actions
  • Combines 2-4 word sentences often when talking
  • Answer simple “What’s this?”, “What is the boy doing?” and “Where is it?” questions
  • Answer “yes” and “no” questions
  • Uses “-ing” at the end of action words where appropriate (e.g. running)
  • Uses little words like “the”, “a”
  • People other than family members can understand 75-100% of the child’s speech by 3yrs of age

By 3yrs To 3.5yrs

Receptive Language

  • Understand describing words (hard/soft)
  • Understand quantity words such as (one/some/all)
  • Understand questions such as, “who is that?”, “who is jumping/running/eating?”
  • Understand “where” questions (e.g. “Where is the ball?”)
  • Identifies 2-3 colors. Can point to 2-3 different colors when a selection of different colored balls are placed in front of them
  • Understand negatives (e.g. “Point to the box with no toys”)

Expressive Language

  • Uses 3-5 word sentences (e.g. “the boy is jumping”)
  • Uses 800 words
  • Can answer simple questions (e.g. “who is that?”)

By 3.5yrs To 4yrs

Receptive Langauge

  • Understand describing words (e.g. “tall/short”, “long/short”)
  • Understand place words such as “front/back”, “next to”, “inside/outside”
  • Beginning to understand “why?” questions

Expressive Language

  • Uses 1000-1500 words
  • Uses little words “is/are” and “he/she”, “I”, “me”, “mine” correctly
  • Beginning to respond correctly to “why?” questions (e.g. “Why do you brush your teeth?”)
  • Uses joining words such as “because”, “then”, “and” (e.g. “The boy is big and mean!”)
  • Can tell a story of 2 events in sequence (e.g. “I went to the shops then to McDonalds”)
  • Begins to use language for jokes and teasing
  • Might correct others
  • Asks a lot of “how”, “why” and “when” questions and expects detailed answers
  • Becoming very intelligible to others in conversation

By 4yrs To 5yrs

Receptive Language

  • Comprehend between 2000-2800 words
  • Understand place words (e.g. “between”, “above/below”, “middle”, “first/next/last”)
  • Beginning to understand comparatives (e.g. “this one is big, and this one is bigger”)
  • Understand difference between day and night
  • Beginning to understand “when” questions

Expressive Language

  • Uses 1500-2000 words
  • Uses joining words such as “if”, “so”, “but”
  • Uses possessive pronouns such as “his”, “her”
  • Use words such as “could” and “would”
  • Combines five to eight words in a sentence
  • Repeats days of the week in sequence
  • Identify the odd one out from a group of three items
  • Tells a long story in sequence, but may not stick to the same idea throughout the story

By 5yrs To 6yrs

Receptive Language

  • Understand time concepts such as “morning/afternoon”, “yesterday/tomorrow”, “before/after”, “now/later”
  • Understands and responds to “when” questions
  • By 6yrs of age knows “right” from “left”

Expressive Language

  • Using all pronouns correctly (“he/she”, “his/her”, “himself/herself”, “me”, “mine”, “I” etc)
  • Names days of the week in order
  • Tells a long story maintaining theme and sequence
  • Grammar is mostly correct
  • By 6yrs of age able to identify and label a number of alphabet letters
  • Can Identify similarities and differences in objects

Bowen, C. (1998). Speech-language-therapy dot com. Retrieved from www.speech-language-therapy.com on (10/01/2011)
Gard, A. Gilman, L. Gorman, J. (1993). Speech and Language Development Chart (2nd ed.).
Austin, Texas: Pro-edOwens, R.E. (2001)Language Development: An Introduction (5th Ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Paul, R. (2001). Language Disorders from Infancy through Adolescence: Assessment and Intervention(2nd Ed.). St Louis, Missouri: Mosby, Inc.
Reynell, J. & Gruber, C. (1990). Reynell Development Language Scales. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.
Zimmeramn, I.L. Steiner, V.G. & Pond, R.E. (2002). Preschool Language Scale – Fourth Edition – Australian Language Adaptation (PLS-4). San Antonio: The Psychological Corporation.

Schedule An Evaluation

If you have concerns regarding your child’s communication skills, contact Chatterbox Pediatric Therapy to schedule an evaluation.

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