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Speech and Language Milestones

0-3 Months

Receptive Language (Understanding)

  • Quiets or smiles when you talk

  • Seems to recognize familiar voices

  • Startles at loud sounds

Expressive Language (Talking)

  • Makes cooing sounds

  • Smiles at people

  • Has different cries for different needs


4-6 Months

Receptive Language (Understanding)

  • Reacts to sounds in the environment (noisy toys)

  • Responds to no, his/her name, and changes in the tone of your voice

  • Moves eyes in the direction of sounds

Expressive Language (Talking)

  • Coos and babbles when playing

  • Giggles and laughs

  • Makes speech-like babbling sounds (ba, mi, pa, da)

  • Makes sounds when happy or upset


7-12 Months

Receptive Language (Understanding)

  • Looks when you point to things

  • Understands simple words (truck, juice, mommy)

  • Starts to respond to simple commands (no, come here)

  • Engages in social games like peek-a-boo

  • Listens to songs and stories for a short time

Expressive Language (Talking)

  • Uses gestures (waves bye-bye, shakes head no)

  • Babbles long string of consonant vowel syllables (baba, mimi, dadada)

  • Imitates different speech sounds

  • Around 12 months, says 1-2 words (mama, uh-oh)


1-2 Years

Receptive Language (Understanding)

  • Understands “no”

  • Follows simple one-step commands (Kiss the baby)

  • Identifies familiar body parts by pointing

  • Points to pictures in a book when named

  • Identifies familiar real-life objects

Expressive Language (Talking)

  • Says first word (around 12 months)

  • Uses sounds p, b, m, h, w in words

  • Starts to name pictures in books

  • Uses 50-100 words by 18 months

  • Puts 2 words together (more juice, no car)

  • Makes the sounds of familiar animals


2-3 Years

Receptive Language (Understanding)

  • Follows two-step directions (Get the ball and bring it to me)

  • Understands pronouns me, my, your

  • Understands difference between big/little, stop/go, up/down

  • Understands the concept of “one” and “all”

  • Answers yes/no questions

Expressive Language (Talking)

  • Uses 200-300 words by 24 months

  • Uses sounds k, g, f, t, d, n in words

  • Uses prepositions (in, on, under)

  • Puts 3 words together

  • Asks simple “wh” questions (What’s that?)

  • Uses present progressive -ing, plural -s, possessive -s


3-4 Years

Receptive Language (Understanding)

  • Understands colors (red, blue, green)

  • Understands some shapes (circle, square)

  • Understands spatial concepts (next to, beside, between)

  • Answers wh questions (where, what’s that, what doing, who is)

Expressive Language (Talking)

  • Uses pronouns (I, you, me, we, they)

  • Uses articles (a, the), plurals and possessive -s (The girl’s hat)

  • Puts 4 words together and talks about what happened during the day

  • Has a vocabulary of nearly 1,000 words


4-5 Years

Receptive Language (Understanding)

  • Understands positional concepts (first, middle, last)

  • Understands spatial concepts (in back of, next to, in front of)

  • Understands comparative and superlative adjectives (e.g., big, bigger, biggest)

  • Understands pronouns he, she, they, his, her

Expressive Language (Talking)

  • Produces 4-5 word sentences

  • Tells a short story

  • Says all speech sounds in words, but may make mistakes on l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, th

  • Answers all wh questions, including how questions

  • Names letters and numbers


Do you have any questions about your child and if he/she is delayed? Feel free to reach out to me or your child's pediatrician. Keep in mind that every child develops at different rates and may develop certain skills slightly earlier or later than other children.

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