Speech Milestones By Age: When Should Your Child Be Saying What

Speech Milestones

Questions like, “when should my child say their first word?” and “is this normal or is it a speech delay?” are pretty common questions Speech-Language Pathologists get from parents of young children. It’s hard to know what exactly is ‘normal’ and when your child should be reaching certain milestones.

So, to help ensure your child is meeting those speech goals, we’ve put together a list of some communication skills by age.

This is a guide for you to check out, but if you’re at all concerned, a referral to a Speech-Language Pathologist is recommended, especially if most of the milestones aren’t being met.

At 6 months

Does your child:

  • Turn his/her eyes or head toward sound?
  • Babble and make different sounds (e.g. “aha’, “baba”, raspberries, squeals, growls)?
  • Make sounds back when you talk?
  • Enjoy games like peek-a-boo?

At 12 months

Does your child:

  • Imitate sounds, words and actions?
  • Recognize his/her name?
  • Follow simple directions (e.g. “Get your ball!”)

At 18 months

Does your child:

  • Use at least 10 words?
  • Respond to routine questions such as “where is the dog”?
  • Follow simple one-step instructions such as, “give me the ball”?

At 2 years of age

Does your child:

  • Use at least 50 words? Combine words in two-word phrases?
  • Point to the correct picture when asked?
  • Follow two-step instructions such as, “go upstairs and bring me your doll”?

At 3 years of age

Does your child:

  • Use at least 500 words?
  • Combine words into three-word phrases?
  • Understand concepts such as big/little, in/on/under?
  • Ask why questions?
  • Are people outside of the family able to understand your child?

At 4 years of age

Does your child:

  • Use 1000-1500 words?
  • Combine words into 4-6 word sentences?
  • Follow three or more step instructions such as, “First get some paper, then draw a picture, and last give it to mom”?
  • Ask a lot of questions?

A referral is also recommended for any of the following:

Voice is continuously hoarse.

Sounds and/or words are repeated often.

Your child acts frustrated when trying to talk.

Play or social skills seem inappropriate.

Literacy skills are behind grade/age expectations.

Limited interest in toys and/or plays with them in an unusual way.

Has lost words he/she used to say.

Most importantly, remember that if you’re concerned with your child’s speech and/or language development, it helps to get early intervention. It can be critical for children with communication problems.

If you do want help, Speech-Language Pathologists can assess your child to determine if his/her speech and language skills are age appropriate, provide intervention, parent strategies and resources.


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