Developmental Milestones 2017-03-08T11:23:38+11:00


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Speech and language milestones vary widely. Some parents find it difficult to know what they should expect from their child and may worry that their child is not talking yet or is difficult to understand.

Speech Sound Acquisition

Age by which 75% of children use the speech sounds listed accurately Speech sounds
3 years h, a, zh, y, w, ng
3 years 6 months f
4 years l, sh, ch
4 years 6 months j, s, z
5 Years r
6 years v
8 years th as in this
8 years 6 months th as in thing

Source: www.speech-language – (Caroline Bowen website)


0-6 months

0-6 months

  • Turn towards a sound when they hear it. They also react to changes in your tone of voice, and responds appropriately to friendly and angry voices.

  • Be startled by loud noises

  • Watch your face when you talk to them

  • Learn to recognise your voice, and will look at you and smile when spoken to

  • Smile and laugh when other people smile and laugh.

  • Make sounds to themselves, like cooing, gurgling and babbling.

  • Between 2-4 months, you baby will make cooing noises like “oo” and “ah” to get your attention. By 6 months Your baby will start early babbling, making many speech sounds consisting of a vowel plus a consonant sound, such as ‘ba, puh, ta, ma’. He or she may also use sounds and simple gestures to show that they want something.

  • Have different cries for different needs. For example one cry for hunger, another when they are tired.

  • Will become quieter or excited to different sounds, and will smile in response to your facial expressions or voice.

6-12 months

Children develop skills at different rates, but by 1 year, usually children will:

  • Listen carefully, and turn to someone talking on the other side of the room.

  • Your baby will listen and respond to his name by turning and looking at you, and begins to understand words like “bye bye’ and “up” especially when physical cues are given. They will also start to imitate simple actions such as waving “bye” or “hello”, clapping to songs and rhymes
  • Start to make a variety of sounds and the sound of babbling changes. They will babble strings of sounds, like ‘bababa’ and ‘go-go’

  • Make noises, point and look at you to get your attention.

  • Smile at people who are smiling at them.

  • Recognise words of familiar objects, things like ‘cup’ and ‘daddy’ and listens with increased interest to new words.

  • Enjoy action songs and rhymes and get excited when sung to.

  • Take turns in conversations, babbling back to an adult.

  • Your baby’s first words may also occur at this stage.

12-18 months

Children develop skills at different rates, but by 18 months, children will usually:

  • Enjoy games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake and toys that make a noise.

  • Start to understand a few simple words, like ‘drink’, ‘shoe’ and ‘car’. She will also follow simple instructions like ‘push the button’, ‘kick the ball’ and ‘give me’.

  • He or she will point to pictures in a book when you name them, and can also start to point to a few body parts when asked, for example “point to your nose.”

  • Gesture or point, often with words or sounds to show what they want.

  • Copy lots of things that adults say and gestures that they make.

  • Start to enjoy simple pretend play, for example pretending to talk on the phone.

  • Start to use their first single word between 12-18 months, such as ‘mummy’, ‘water’ and will be expanding his or her vocabulary. These words may not always be easily recognised by unfamiliar adults.

  • Start to imitate sounds such as animal sounds like ‘mooo”, and “woof woof”

18-24 months

Children develop skills at different rates, but by 2 years, usually children will:

  • Your toddler likes to listen to simple stories, songs and rhymes and can concentrate on activities for longer, like playing with a particular toy.

  • Understand between 200 and 500 words.

  • Understand more limited wh- questions and instructions. For example ‘where is your hat?’ and ‘where is your mouth?’’ He or she can also follow simple directions, e.g. “Push the bus” and will also start to answer yes/no and choice questions, for example “do you want milk or juice?”

  • Use 50 or more single words. These will also become more recognisable to others.

  • Start to combine words into two word sentences’, such as ‘more juice’ or ‘bye daddy’.

  • Use a limited number of sounds in their words – often these are p, b, t, d, m and w. Children will also often miss the ends off words at this stage. They can usually be understood about half of the time.

2-3 years

  • They will start to listen to and remember stories for a longer period of time

  • Understand two step directions,  and directions that contain an action, for example  ‘make teddy jump’

  • Understand simple ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘where’ questions, for example ‘where’s mummy’s coat?’

  • Vocabulary is expanding from approximately 200 to 1000 words

  • They will start to engage in longer conversation and begin to expand their sentences.

  • Ask lots of questions. They will want to find out the name of things and learn new words.

  • Use action words as well as nouns, such as ‘run’ and ‘fall’.

  • Start to use simple plurals by adding ‘s’, for example ‘shoes’ or ‘cars’.

  • Now play more with other children and share things.

3-4 years

Children develop skills at different rates, but by 4 years children usually will:

  • Listen to longer stories and answer questions about a storybook they have just read.

  • Understand and use colour, number and time related words, for example, ‘blue’ car, ‘four’’ fingers and ‘yesterday / today’. They can also identify colours correctly and match objects, for example “Find one like this.”

  • Use longer sentences and may become interested in describing events that have already happened e.g. ‘we went on an excursion’.’

  • Enjoy make-believe play and start to be able to plan games with others.

  • Understand and ask more complex questions logically, such as “Who?”, “What?” and “Where?”

  • Still make mistakes with tense such as say ‘runned’ for ‘ran’ and ‘swimmed’ for ‘swam’.

  • By 4 years of age your child should be able to produce most sounds, and his or her speech should be intelligible to unfamiliar people.

4-5 years

Children develop skills at different rates, but by 5 years usually children will:

  • Understand most of what is said and can follow spoken instructions that involve objects not present in the room.

  • Take turns in conversations

  • Understand more complicated language such as ‘first’, ‘last’, ‘might’, ‘may be’, ‘above’ and ‘in between’. They will also start to understand words that describe sequences such as, “first we are going to have lunch, and then we will play a game”.

  • Use sentences that are well formed, although they may still have some difficulties with grammar. For example, saying ‘sheeps’ instead of ‘sheep’ or ‘goed’ instead of ‘went’.

  • Understand and answer ‘when’ and ‘how many’ questions

  • Produce most sounds correctly. However, they may have some difficulties with ‘v’ and ‘th’ sounds in words.

www.speech-language –
LS guide to Communication Milestones 2008

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