Speech, Language, and Hearing Milestones For Young Children

This tip provides a brief overview of some speech, language and hearing milestones for young children.  The children we serve have varying levels of development.  It is important to understand what age the various milestones should be occurring; so we are able to provide services for those who may have delays in one or many areas.  The chart below outlines a few of the milestones.  Go to www.asha.org/public/speech/development/chart.htm for a more complete chart of milestones.

Birth–6 months

Startle to loud sounds. Respond to changes in tone of your voice.

Moves eyes in direction of sounds

Cry differently for different needs. Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m.


7–12 months

Enjoy games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake. Recognize words for common items like “shoe,” “book,” Begins to respond to requests

Imitates different speech sounds. Use gestures to communicate (waving, holding arms to be picked up).


12–24 months (1-2 years)

Follow simple directions and understand simple questions (“Roll the ball,” “Kiss the baby,” “Where’s your shoe?”). Point to pictures in a book when named.

Say more words every month.  Uses one or two word questions.  Puts two words together (“more cookie,” “no juice,” “mommy book”).


24–36 months (2–3 years)

Understands differences in meaning (“go-stop,” “in-on,” “big-little,” “up-down”). Follow two requests (“Get the book and put it on the table.”).

Uses two or three words to talk about and ask for things. Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time.


36–48 months (3–4 years)

Hears you when you call from another room. Answer simple who, what, where, and why questions.

People outside of the family usually understand child’s speech. Use a lot of sentences that have four or more words.


48–60 months (4–5 years)

Pays attention to a short story and answer simple questions about it. Hear and understand most of what is said at home and in school.

Communicates easily with other children and adults. Use sentences that give lots of details (e.g., “The biggest peach is mine.”).

Source: Adapted from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. How Does Your Child Hear and Talk? Available at www.asha.org/public/speech/development/chart.htm .