As young children learn language skills, it’s normal for them to have some difficulty saying words correctly. There is a wide range of what’s normal. But if you think your child is having trouble communicating, don’t ignore your concerns. It’s important for children to develop an early understanding and expression of language so that other developmental skills, such as play and social interaction skills, aren’t delayed.
“Language learning can easily be incorporated into daily activities. Children are constantly learning language receptively and expressively in all environments,” said Melissa Gran, speech and language pathologist at CHOC Children’s. “It is so important to talk to your children throughout the day, such as when getting them dressed, meal time and bath time.”
Knowing what’s “normal” and what’s not in speech and language development can help you figure out if your child is developing on schedule. It’s important to discuss any concerns with your child’s doctor at every routine well-child visit.
Speech Milestones by Age
Birth to 3 months:
Your baby reacts to loud sounds; calms down or smiles when spoken to; recognizes your voice and calms down if crying; when feeding, starts or stops sucking in response to sound; coos and makes pleasure sounds; has a special way of crying for different needs.
4 to 6 Months
Your baby follows sounds with his or her eyes; responds to changes in the tone of your voice; notices toys that make sounds; pays attention to music; babbles when excited or unhappy; makes gurgling sounds when alone or playing with you
7 Months to 1 Year
Your baby enjoys playing peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake; babbles using long and short groups of sounds (tata, upup, bibibi); babbles to get and keep attention; communicates using gestures such as waving or holding up arms; imitates different speech sounds; has one or two words (hi, dog, dada, mama) by first birthday; turns and looks in the direction of sounds; listens when spoken to; understands words for common items such as cup, shoe or juice; responds to requests (“Come here”).
1 to 2 Years
Your child knows a few parts of the body and can point to them when asked; follows simple commands “(“Roll the ball”) and understands simple questions (“where’s your shoe?”); enjoys simple stories, songs and rhymes; points to pictures, when named, in books; acquires new words on a regular basis; uses some one- or two-word questions (“Where kitty?); puts two words together (“More cookie”); uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words.
2 to 3 Years
Your child has a word for almost everything; uses two- or three-word phrases to talk about and ask for things; uses k,g,f,t,d, and n sounds; speaks in a way that is understood by family members and friends; names objects to ask for them or to direct attention to them
3 to 4 Years
Hears you when you call from another room, Talks about activities at daycare, preschool or friends’ homes; speaks easily without having to repeat syllables; uses sentences with four or more words.
4 to 5 Years
Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it; uses sentences that give many details; tells stories that stay on topic; communicates easily with other children and adults; says most sounds correct (l,s,r,v,z,ch,sh and th).