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Does my child need speech?

We receive many phone calls and messages that begin with this question. That is why we offer a free 30-minute consultation. This provides you with an opportunity to meet a licensed speech-language pathologist and have your questions answered as soon as possible.

Below you will find Expressive and Receptive Language Developmental Milestones for children 0-6 years of age. You may use these to help you better understand where your child is when compared to his/her age.

Note: Approximate Age

2 to 4 months

Turns head toward sounds and can begin to discriminate one sound from another.

Verbal play through cooing, gooing and laughing. Vowel sounds produced (i.e., “ooohh, eee, and ahhh”).

4 to 8 months

Anticipates an event (e.g. peek-a-boo) and follows a line of regard (e.g. visually follows toy moving across floor) as well as joint attention (i.e. is capable of visually attending to object with caregiver).

Babbling begins. Some consonant are produced (i.e., ba, ma, pa).

Continues vocal play and exploration. Reduplicated (e.g., baba, mama) babbling begins between 7-9 months.

8 to 12 months

Relates words with physical objects (e.g. understands that the word “ball” actually means the object ball). Responds to simple phrases such as “no”.

Variegated babbling (e.g., madaga), Protowords or first word approximations appear. (Protowords = vocalizations that are used CONSISTENTLY by the infant to represent a familiar object or person. e.g. dada for daddy).

Non-verbal communication. Jargon (i.e. unintelligible speech such as, baka la tama eee) is present.

1 to 2 years

Increased attention to toys.

Changes behavior in response to comments made to him/her.

Knows a few simple commands with gestures needed at times.

Understands simple questions.

Points to simple pictures.

50 words at 18 months (consist of many proto words)

50-200 words at 24 months. Uses mostly nouns and pronouns me/mine.

Jargon (i.e. unintelligible speech) still present.

2 to 3 years

Comprehension shows a rapid increase.

Responds to more 2 step command with prepositions (e.g. Spatial conditions. Pick up the ball and put it on the table).

Understands questions about an object (what?), people (who?), and basic events (What _ doing? Where _ going?)

150 words at age 2

300-400 words and 75% intelligible speech at age 3 years.

Awareness of rhyming emerges (24-30 months)

Uses two-three word phrases frequently. Asks simple questions.

Fluency can be poor. Jargon (unintelligible speech) mostly gone.

Vowel sounds intact. Early emerging of ing, in, on, plural /s/.

Use and understand negation between subject and verb (no, not, can't, don't). 

3 to 4 years

Understands 1500 words.

Recognizes gender differences (he/she), plurals, pronouns, adjectives (eg. big), adverbs (eg. fast), and basic colors.

Has awareness of the topic during conversation and is able to continue the conversation by adding additional information. 

Uses 600-1000 words and 3-4 word sentences.

Pronouns and adjectives are used as well as some adverbs, prepositions, past tense and plurals. 

Articles appear (a, the) in sentences. 

Answers what, where and when questions.

4 to 5 years

Comprehends 1500-2000 words.

Understands if, because, why and when.

Follows complex directions. 

Knowledge of letter names and sounds emerges.

Knowledge of numbers and counting. 

Vocabulary increases to 1000-1600 words and 4-6 word (complex) sentences.

3-4 syllable words are being used.

100 % speech intelligibility. 

Errors on /s/, /r/, /l/, /th/ may persist.  

Uses more adjectives, adverbs and conjunctions (and, because).

Fluency improving. 

5 to 6 years

Understands 2500-2800 words.

Understands more complicated sentences. 

A vocabulary of 1500-2100 words.

Uses complete 5-6 word sentences.

Fluent speech.

Many multi-syllabic words are used.


Gleason, J. B. (2005). The development of language. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Paul, R. (2001). Language disorders from infancy through adolescence: Assessment and intervention. St Louis: Mosby Inc.

Golinkoff, R. M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (1999). How babies talk: The magic and mystery of language in the first three years of life. New York: Penguin Group.

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