Developmental Milestones

Speech and Language

Birth – 1 year

  • Speech
    • Produces cooing sounds by 3 months
    • Begins to babble around 6 months
    • Vocalizes and imitates p, b, m sounds, “Mama”
  • Language
    • Turns towards sounds
    • Responds to “No”
    • Cries differently for wants and needs
    • Recognizes own name and family member names
    • Uses gestures to communicate (reaching arms up or waving goodbye)
    • Starts using first words, “Mama” or “Dada” (around 12 months)

1 – 2 years

  • Speech
    • Speech is starting to be understood by parents and familiar caregivers
    • Many words contain consonant vowel combinations, “do” for “dog”
    • By 2 years old, your baby should start using different vowel – consonant combinations, “Mama” or “Puppy”
  • Language
    • Start to combine 2 word phrases, “more juice”
    • Follows 1 step directions, “get the ball”
    • Answers yes/no questions
    • Often uses gestures
    • By age 2, uses approximately 50 words and understands approximately 300 words

2 – 3 years

  • Speech
    • Understood by familiar listeners approximately 50-70% of the time
    • Uses the following sounds: p, b, m, n, w, h, t, d, y, & ing
  • Language
    • Combines 3 word phrases, “I want juice”
    • Starts to understand simple 2 step directions “get your shoes and bring them to Dad”
    • Begins to name objects when requested
    • Answers simple “what” questions

3 – 4 years

  • Speech
    • Understood by all listeners approximately 70-80% of the time
    • Uses the following sounds: p, b, m, n, w, h, t, d, y, ing, & f
  • Language
    • Uses 250-500 words
    • Answers simple “what” and “where” questions
    • Can say his/her name and age
    • Speaks 3-4 word sentences
    • Tells short stories

4 – 5  years

  • Speech
    • Understood by all listeners approximately 80-90% of the time
    • Uses the following new sounds: k, g, v, & j
  • Language
    • Starts to recognize and name shapes and colors
    • Answers simples “who” questions
    • Starts to understand time and sequence concepts (first/next/last)
    • Follows 2-3 step related and routine commands
    • Count 10 or more objects

Age 5

  • Speech
    • Understood by all listeners approximately >90% of the time (may have some pronunciation errors)
    • Uses the following new sounds: s & sh

**Common sound errors that may continue to present at age 6: r, l, z, th, & ch

  • Language
    • Answers more complicated, “what,” “who,” “where,” and “why” questions
    • Starts to recognize letters and numbers
    • Uses 4 or more words in a sentence
    • Uses the following grammar: correct pronouns (he/she), plurals, and past tense

If you have doubts about your child’s speech or understanding act early!
Consult with your Chatterbox therapist to determine if an evaluation is appropriate.
Early intervention is the key to future success!

How to Encourage Proper Speech and Language in Your Child

  • Build vocabulary: target and explain new vocabulary words each day within your everyday environment
  • Ask questions: asking questions during every day routines and events helps expand your child’s vocabulary and understanding of language
  • Communicate Temptation: create situations where a child needs to communicate through words or gestures to have his/her needs met.
  • Imitation: Having a child imitate you increases his or her ability to produce sounds and words at appropriate times.
  • Expanding: Use your child’s language and expand it to make it more complex. (e.g., child says, “Cat.” Adult says “You’re right, that is a big brown cat.” )
  • Read aloud: emphasize and reinforce new words, ask questions about the story while reading, ask your child to retell the story

Reading Development

Emergent literacy is the knowledge children gain from reading and writing prior to formal instruction and it is the foundation for higher level reading skills. The follow list highlights some of the typical literacy milestones.


  • Showing an interest in books
  • Looks at pictures when named by reading partner


  • Holds book correctly
  • Turning pages from right to left
  • Pointing to pictures names by reading partner
  • Recognizes familiar environmental logos, signs, etc.
  • Pretends to read books
  • Recognizes words that sound the same


  • Scanning words from left to right on the pages
  • Knowledge of the front of the book in relation to the back of the book
  • Imitating the reading of others
  • Begins to understand the words on the page tell a story about the pictures
  • Sounding out letters to form words
  • Identification of rhyming words
  • Identification of letters
  • Knowledge that letters have sounds

The development of language and literacy run parallel and a delay in one area may lead to delay in the other. Children acquire literacy skills through play, listening, talking and communicating with adults in their environment. In the event you feel your child is demonstrating difficulty with the above skills give us a call for more information or to set up a time for an evaluation.

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