Speech Language Milestones

Speech Language Milestones: What Should My Child Be Able To Do?

Hearing and Understanding 

Birth – 3 Months
  • Startles at loud sounds
  • Quiets or smiles when spoken to
  • Seems to recognize your voice
 4 – 6 Months
  • Recognizes voices and sounds
  • Looks towards speaker
  • Notices music and toys that make noise
7 Months – 1 Year

  • Peek-a-boo and itsy bitsy spider
  • Responds to own name
  • Turns and looks in direction of sounds
  • Recognizes words for common objects (juice, cup, shoe, book)
  • Understands no consistently
1 – 2 Years

  • Points to a few body parts (eyes, nose)
  • Follows one step commands (Come here, Give Mom a kiss)
2 – 3 Years
  • Understands opposites (go-stop, on-off)
  • Labels items in book or on tv
3 – 4 Years
  • Answers “wh” questions (who, when)
  • Follows 3 step commands
4 – 5 Years

  • Listens and understands most of what is said at home and school


Birth – 3 Months

  • Cries differently for different needs
  • Smiles when sees you
  • Makes pleasure sounds (cooing)
 4 – 6 Months
  • Makes different sounds (babbling,
  • Chuckles and laughs
  • Shows pleasure and displeasure
 7 Months – 1 Year
  • Babbling has both long and short sounds
  • May have 1-2 words (hi, dada, mama)
  • Uses gestures to communicate
  • Imitates different speech sounds
 1 – 2 Years
  • Uses 1-2 words
  • Vocabulary of approx XX words
  • Turn taking
  • Experiment with new consonant sounds
 2 – 3 Years
  • Speech is understood by family
  • Asks simple questions (yes/no)
  • Has a vocabulary of 100-200 words
 3 – 4 Years
  • Will talk without repeating syllables
  • Speech is understood outside family
  • Uses 4 or more words to make a sentence
  4 – 5 Years
  • Says most sounds correctly except a few like  s, r, v, z, j, ch, th, sh.
  • Uses appropriate grammar


What Sounds Should My Child Be Making?

It’s very common for parents to be concerned about their child’s language development and specifically wonder, “What sounds should my child be making?” A child’s development of consonants generally follows a sequence that is common among all children.  There is however, variation between individual children and the specific age at which they acquire the various sounds.

 -90% of children master the following sounds by the ages listed:

3 years old                      p,m,h,n,w

 4 years old                      b,k,g,d,f,y

 6 years old                      t,ng,r,l

 7 years old                      ch,sh,j,voiceless th (as in “think”)

 8 years old                      s,z,v,zh,voiced th (as in “this”)

What should I do if I think my child is having trouble with his/her sounds? Contact a Speech Language Pathologist to discuss your child’s sound development and possible need for a screening or complete articulation evaluation.

Is My Child Stuttering?

If your child has difficulty speaking and tends to hesitate on or repeat certain syllables, words, or phrases, he may have a child stuttering problem.  But he may simply be going through periods of normal dysfluency that most children experience as they learn to speak.


  1. The normal dysfluent child occasionally repeats syllables or words once or twice. Li-like this.  Dysfluencies may also include hesitancies and the use of fillers such as “uh”, “er”, “um.”
  2. Dysfluencies occur most often between the ages one and one and one-half and five years, and they tend to come and go.

They are usually signs that a child is learning to use language in new ways.  If dysfluencies appear for several weeks, then return, the child may just be going through another stage of learning.


  1. A child with milder stuttering repeats sounds more than twice. Li-li-like this. Tensions and struggle may be evident in the facial muscles, especially around the mouth.
  2. The pitch of the voice may rise with repetitions, and occasionally the child will experience a “block” – no airflow or voice for several seconds.
  3. Dysfluencies may come and go but are now present more often than absent.

What to do?

  • Try to model, slow and relaxed speech.
  • Set aside a few minutes each day when you are doing nothing else but listening to your child.
  • When your child talks to you or asks a question, try to pause a second before you answer.  This will help you talking be less hurried.
  • Do not call extra attention to your child’s speech.
  • Make sure your child gets a turn to talk.

If you aren’t sure whether your child is showing these warning signs, get an assessment anyway, something we’re glad to provide here at Marianne P. Sperry & Associates.  Even if treatment isn’t necessary, the speech and language pathologist will be able to analyze your child’s speech and answer your questions.