Milestones

Speech and Developmental Language Milestones

The most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills is the first 3 years of life, when the brain is still developing.  These skills develop best in an environment that is rich with sight, sounds, and consistent exposure to the speech and language of others.

There appears to be critical periods for speech and language development in infants and young children when the brain is best able to absorb language. If these critical periods are allowed to pass without exposure to language, it will be more difficult to learn.

We have included a table below that depicts the normal growth for several different age groups.

0-6 Months7-12 Months13-18Months19-24 Months2-3 Years3-4 Years4-5 Years5-6 Years6-7 Years
  • Repeats the same sounds
  • Frequently coos, gurgles, and makes pleasure sounds
  • Uses a different cry to express different needs
  • Smiles when spoken to
  • Looks at your face when talking to them
  • Recognizes voices
  • Localizes sound by turning head
  • Listens to speech
  • Uses the phonemes /b/, /p/, and /m/ in babbling
  • Uses sounds or gestures to indicate wants
  • Startle response to loud sounds
  • Understands “no” and” hot”
  • Responds to simple requests
  • Understands and responds to own name
  • Listens to and imitates some sounds
  • Recognizes words for common items (e.g., spoon, shirt, milk)
  • Babbles using long and short groups of sounds
  • Uses a song-like intonation pattern when babbling
  • Uses a large variety of sounds in babbling
  • Imitates some adult speech sounds and intonation patterns
  • Uses speech sounds rather than only crying to get attention
  • Listens when spoken to
  • Uses sound approximations
  • Begins to change babbling to jargon (speech that sounds like a conversation)
  • Uses speech intentionally for the first time
  • Uses nouns almost exclusively
  • Has an expressive vocabulary of 1 to 3 words
  • Understands simple commands
  • Uses adult-like intonation patterns
  • Uses echolalia and jargon (talking that sounds like a conversation)
  • Increase in how much they repeat
  • Omits some initial consonants and almost all final consonants
  • Produces mostly unintelligible speech
  • Follows simple commands
  • Receptively identifies 1-3 body parts
  • Has an expressive vocabulary of 3-20 or more words (mostly nouns)
  • Combines gestures and vocalization
  • Makes requests for more desired items
  • Uses words more frequently than jargon
  • Has an expressive vocabulary (what a child says) of 50-100 or more words
  • Has a receptive vocabulary (what a child understands) of 300 or more words
  • Begins to understand categories such as toys, drinks, food, clothes
  • Starts to combine nouns and verbs
  • Begins to use pronouns (I, me, you)
  • Maintains unstable voice control (loud vs. quiet)
  • Uses appropriate intonation for questions (voice rises when asking a question)
  • Is understood by strangers approximately 25-50% of the time
  • Answers “what’s that?” questions
  • Enjoys listening to stories and pointing to named pictures
  • Knows 5 body parts
  • Accurately names a many familiar objects
  • Strangers understand 50-75% of speech
  • Understands “one” and “all”
  • Verbalizes toilet needs (before, during, or after act)
  • Requests items by naming them
  • Identifies 3-7 body parts
  • Follows simple 2-step commands
  • Answers simple questions
  • Enjoys listening to short stories, songs, and rhymes
  • Asks 1 to 2 word questions
  • Uses 3 to 4 word phrases
  • Uses some prepositions (objects that describe placement such as on, at, in, under)
  • Uses articles (a, the), present progressive verbs (jumping, running), regular plurals (cups, balls), contractions (can’t), and irregular past tense forms (slept)
  • Has a receptive vocabulary (what a child understands) of 500-900 words
  • Has an expressive vocabulary (what a child says) of 50-250 words (rapid growth during this period)
  • Exhibits multiple grammatical errors
  • Understands most things said to him or her
  • Frequently exhibits repetitions – especially starters such as “I”, and first syllables
  • Speaks with a loud voice (especially boys)
  • Frequently omits medial consonants
  • Frequently omits or substitutes final consonants
  • Uses some regular past tense verbs, pronouns, and imperatives
  • Understands reasons for objects (dry with a towel)
  • Understands opposites (in-out, up-down)
  • Beginning to know colors and animals
  • Follows 2-3 part commands (put on your socks, then shoes, then brush your teeth)
  • Asks and answers simple questions (who, what, where, why)
  • Frequently asks questions and often demands detail in responses
  • Produces simple verbal analogies
  • Uses language to express feelings
  • Uses 4-5 word sentences, occasional up to 6 words
  • Can repeat 6-13 syllable sentences
  • Identifies objects by name
  • Manipulates others
  • Uses nouns and verbs most frequently
  • Is beginning to understand past, present and future
  • Receptive vocabulary (what a child understands) is at 1,200-2,000 words
  • Expressive vocabulary (what a child says) of 800-1,500 words
  • May repeat words or sounds often sounding like stuttering
  • Increases speech rate
  • Whispers
  • Masters 50% of consonants and consonant blends (2 consonants together)
  • Speech is 80% understandable by strangers
  • Sentence grammar is improving
  • Appropriately uses “is”, “are”, and “am” in sentences
  • Tells two events in chronological order
  • Engages in longer conversations
  • Uses some contractions, irregular plurals, future tense verbs, and conjunctions
  • Consistently uses regular plurals, possessives, and simple past tense verbs
  • Understands concept of numbers 1-10
  • Continues understanding of spatial concepts (where things are)
  • Recognizes 3 colors
  • Has a receptive vocabulary (what a child understands) of 9,000 words
  • Counts to 10 by rote
  • Listens to short, simple stories
  • Answers questions about function
  • Uses grammatically correct sentences
  • Has an expressive vocabulary (what a child understands) of 900-2,000 words
  • Uses sentences of 4-8 words
  • Answers complex 2-part questions
  • Has a rate of approximately 186 words per minute
  • Reduces number of word and sound repetitions
  • Enjoys rhymes, rhythms, and nonsense syllables
  • Produces most consonants
  • Frequently omits medial consonants
  • Speech is usually understood by strangers
  • Talks about experiences at school, at friends’ homes, etc
  • Accurately relays a long story
  • Pays attention to a story and answers simple questions about it
  • Uses some irregular plurals, possessive pronouns, future tense
  • Names 6 basic colors and 3 basic shapes
  • Follows instructions given to a group
  • Follows 3-part commands
  • Asks how questions
  • Answers verbally to hi and how are you?
  • Uses past tense and future tense appropriately
  • Uses conjunctions
  • Has a receptive vocabulary (what a child understands) of 13,000 words
  • Accurately Names opposites
  • Sequentially names days of the week
  • Counts to 30 by rote
  • Vocabulary increasing drastically
  • Reduces sentence length to 4-6 words
  • Reverses sounds occasionally
  • Exchanges information and asks questions
  • Uses sentences with details
  • Accurately relays a story
  • Sings entire songs and recites nursery rhymes
  • Communicates easily with adults and other children
  • Uses appropriate grammar in most cases
  • Names letters, numbers, and some currencies
  • Sequences numbers
  • Understands left and right
  • Uses increasingly more complex descriptions
  • Engages in conversations
  • Has a receptive vocabulary (what a child understands) of 20,000 words
  • Uses a sentence length of approximately 6 words
  • Understands most concepts of time
  • Recites the alphabet
  • Counts to 100 by rote

Occupational Therapy Developmental Milestones

It is important to note all children are unique in their development. The guidelines below can help you identify the need for an occupational therapy referral from a physician.

Milestones