Developmental Milestones {Parent Resources}

Developmental milestones are the specific skills related to communication, fine motor, gross motor, cognitive (e.g. thinking), and self help (e.g. feeding/dressing) that children acquire as they grow and learn.  A child’s genetics and environment will play a role in the rate and extent of a child’s development. Early intervention is critical if a parent or caregiver notices that certain skills are not present by a certain age. However, these milestones are a guideline and does not confirm that your child has a speech-language disorder if a skill is not yet developed. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association provides an excellent overview of typical speech-language development for children from birth-age 5:  

What should my child be able to do?

Hearing and Understanding Talking
Birth–3 Months
  • Startles to loud sounds
  • Quiets or smiles when spoken to
  • Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying
  • Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound
Birth–3 Months
  • Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)
  • Cries differently for different needs
  • Smiles when sees you
4–6 Months
  • Moves eyes in direction of sounds
  • Responds to changes in tone of your voice
  • Notices toys that make sounds
  • Pays attention to music
4–6 Months
  • Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m
  • Chuckles and laughs
  • Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
  • Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with you
7 Months–1 Year
  • Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
  • Turns and looks in direction of sounds
  • Listens when spoken to
  • Recognizes words for common items like “cup”, “shoe”, “book”, or “juice”
  • Begins to respond to requests (e.g. “Come here” or “Want more?”)
7 Months–1 Year
  • Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as “tata upup bibibibi”
  • Uses speech or noncrying sounds to get and keep attention
  • Uses gestures to communicate (waving, holding arms to be picked up)
  • Imitates different speech sounds
  • Has one or two words (hi, dog, dada, mama) around first birthday, although sounds may not be clear

1 year- 2 years of age

Hearing and Understanding Talking
  • Points to a few body parts when asked.
  • Follows simple commands and understands simple questions (“Roll the ball,” “Kiss the baby,” “Where’s your shoe?”).
  • Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes.
  • Points to pictures in a book when named.
  • Says more words every month.
  • Uses some one- or two- word questions (“Where kitty?” “Go bye-bye?” “What’s that?”).
  • Puts two words together (“more cookie,” “no juice,” “mommy book”).
  • Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words.

2 years-3 years of age

Hearing and Understanding Talking
  • Understands differences in meaning (“go-stop,” “in-on,” “big-little,” “up-down”).
  • Follows two requests (“Get the book and put it on the table”).
  • Listens to and enjoys hearing stories for longer periods of time
  • Has a word for almost everything.
  • Uses two- or three- words to talk about and ask for things.
  • Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds.
  • Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time.
  • Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them.
  • Asks why?
  • May stutter on words or sounds

3 years – 4  years of age

Hearing and Understanding Talking
  • Hears you when you call from another room.
  • Hears television or radio at the same loudness level as other family members.
  • Understands words for some colors, like red, blue, and green
  • Understands words for some shapes, like circle and square
  • Understands words for family, like brother, grandmother, and aunt
  • Talks about activities at school or at friends’ homes.
  • Talks about what happened during the day. Uses about 4 sentences at a time.
  • People outside of the family usually understand child’s speech.
  • Answers simple “who?”, “what?”, and “where?” questions.
  • Asks when and how questions.
  • Says rhyming words, like hat-cat
  • Uses pronouns, like I, you, me, we, and they
  • Uses some plural words, like toys, birds, and buses
  • Uses a lot of sentences that have 4 or more words.
  • Usually talks easily without repeating syllables or words.



4 years- 5 years of age

Hearing and Understanding Talking
  • Understands words for order, like first, next, and last.
  • Understands words for time, like yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
  • Follows longer directions, like “Put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, and then pick out a book.”
  • Follows classroom directions, like “Draw a circle on your paper around something you eat.”
  • Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school.
  • Says all speech sounds in words. May make mistakes on sounds that are harder to say, like l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, th.
  • Responds to “What did you say?”
  • Talks without repeating sounds or words most of the time.
  • Names letters and numbers.
  • Uses sentences that have more than 1 action word, like jump, play, and get. May make some mistakes, like “Zach got 2 video games, but I got one.”
  • Tells a short story.
  • Keeps a conversation going.
  • Takes in different ways depending on the listener and place. May use short sentences with younger children or talk louder outside than inside.
For more information about children’s typical speech-language development during elementary school age, check out this link:
 http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/communicationdevelopment/

For more information about children’s typical motor, social-emotional, sensory, and cognitive thinking skills see information provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics :  
http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/default.aspx

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