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Development Milestones

Average Speech and Hearing Behavior for Your Child’s Age Level

Early identification and treatment of hearing, speech, and language disorders can prevent problems with behavior, learning, reading, and social interactions. The milestones listed below will help you to detect any hearing or speech problems in your child at a very young age. Even if a hearing loss was not detected during your child’s infant screening, it is important to continually monitor speech and language development in order to quickly identify a potential for later loss.

Hearing and Understanding – Special Milestones

Birth–3 Months

  • Startled by loud sounds
  • Soothed by caretakers’ voices

3-6 Months

  • Reacts to the sound of your voice
  • Turns eyes and head in the direction of the source of sounds
  • Enjoys rattles and noisy toys

7-10 Months

  • Responds to his/her own name
  • Understands “mama,” “dada,” “bye-bye” and other common words
  • Turns and looks in direction of sounds
  • Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake

11-15 Months

  • Imitates and matches sounds with own speech production (though frequently unintelligible), especially in response to human voices or loud noises
  • Locates or points to familiar objects when asked
  • Understands words by making appropriate responses or behavior:
    • “Where’s the dog?”
    • “Find the truck.”

15-18 Months

  • Identifies things in response to questions, such as parts of the body
  • Uses a few single words; while not complete or perfectly pronounced, the words should be clearly meaningful
  • Follows simple spoken directions

2 Years

  • Understands yes/no questions
  • Uses everyday words heard at home or at daycare/school
  • Enjoys being read to and shown pictures in books; points out pictures upon request
  • Interested in radio/television as shown by word or action
  • Puts words together to make simple sentences, although they are not complete or grammatically correct:
    • “Juice all gone”
    • “Go bye-bye car”
  • Follows simple commands without visual clues from the speaker:
    • “Bring me that ball.”
    • “Get your book.”

2 ½ Years

  • Says or sings short rhymes and songs; enjoys music
  • Vocabulary approximately 270 words
  • Investigates noises or tells others when interesting sounds are heard:
    • Car door slamming
    • Telephone ringing

3 Years

  • Understands and uses simple verbs, pronouns, and adjectives:
    • Go, come, run, sing
    • Me, you, him, her
    • Big, green, sweet
  • Locates the source of a sound automatically
  • Often uses complete sentences
  • Vocabulary approximately 1000 words

4 Years

  • Gives connected account of some recent experiences
  • Can carry out a sequence of two simple directions:
    • “Find your shoe and bring it here.”
    • “Get the ball and throw it to the dog.”

5 Years

  • Speech should be intelligible, although some sounds may still be mispronounced – such as the /s/ sound, particularly in blends with other consonants (e.g., “street,” “sleep,” “ask”). Neighbors and people outside the family can understand most of what your child says, and his/her grammatical patterns should match theirs most of the time.
  • Child carries on conversations, although vocabulary may be limited
  • Pronouns should be used correctly:
    • “I” instead of “me”
    • “He” instead of “him”