speech & language milestones

Birth - 3 months

  • Quiets to a familiar voice
  • Moves in response to voice
  • Discriminates between angry and friendly voices
  • Has a hunger cry
  • Vocalizes to show pleasure

3 - 6 months

  • Begins to recognize own name
  • Responds to “no”
  • Smiles in response to speech
  • Takes turns vocalizing

6-9 months

  • Responds to “no” most of the time
  • Moves toward or looks for family members when named
  • Responds to “Come here” (only if your child is mobile)
  • Vocalizes in response to objects that move
  • Shouts or vocalizes to gain attention

9-12 months

  • Responds to some verbal requests such as giving objects and gesturing when asked “Want up?”
  • Identifies two body parts on self
  • Participates in speech routine games like “So big”
  • Says “Mama” or “Dada”
  • Says 1-2 words spontaneously

12-15 months

  • Follows one-step commands during play
  • Responds to “Give me”
  • Identifies three body parts on self or doll
  • Understands some prepositions such as up and down
  • Shakes head yes or no
  • Says 8-10 words spontaneously
  • Tries to sing along with familiar songs
  • Imitates new words
  • Imitates three animal sounds

15-18 months

  • Identifies six body parts or clothing items on a doll
  • Chooses two familiar objects when asked (i.e. gets items as you name them, such as bottle, ball, shoes)
  • Identifies objects by categories (i.e. able to put blocks with other blocks, balls with other balls)
  • Says 15 meaningful words
  • Asks for “more”
  • Asks “What’s that”
  • Names 5-7 objects when asked

18-21 months

  • Identifies four body parts and clothing items on self
  • If mobile, follows directions to “Sit down” and “Come here”
  • Understands the meaning of action words
  • Identifies pictures named
  • Imitates two-and-three word phrases
  • Requests toys or food with vocalizations and gestures
  • Names some pictures

21-24 months

  • Puts away toys on request
  • Follows two-step related commands (i.e. “Get the diaper and bring it to me” or “Pick up the cup and take a drink”)
  • Says two-word phrases frequently
  • Uses 50 different words
  • Says three-word phrases occasionally
  • Says own name to refer to self

24-27 months

  • Points to four action words in pictures
  • Understands size concepts (big and small)
  • Understands the concept one (i.e. “Give me one block” or “Get one cup”)
  • Imitates two numbers or unrelated words
  • Uses three-word phrases frequently
  • Uses action words (i.e. sit, eat, cry, sleep, kick, throw, roll)

27-30 months

  • Responds to simple questions
  • Understands two prepositions/location phrases , such as on, in, by, under
  • Names one color
  • Refers to self by pronouns consistently (I, me, my)
  • Uses two sentence types (declarative sentences like “Dog eat” or “Give me cookie”and asks questions like “Mommy go”
  • Uses past tense regular and irregular forms
  • Uses negation (no, not, don’t)

30-33 months

  • Names one color
  • Refers to self by pronouns consistently (I, me, my)
  • Uses two sentence types (declarative sentences like “Dog eat” or “Give me cookie”and asks questions like “Mommy go”
  • Uses past tense regular and irregular forms
  • Uses negation (no, not, don’t)
  • Answers questions with “yes” and “no”
  • Uses plurals
  • Uses prepositions
  • States gender
  • Says first and last names

33-36 months

  • Follows three-step unrelated commands (i.e. “Get your ball, give baby a drink, and push the car”)
  • Answers wh-questions
  • Identifies parts of objects
  • Uses verb form -ing
  • Asks wh-questions including what, who, and where
  • Talks in sentences 3-5 words in length
  • Counts to 3
  • Recites some nursery rhymes