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Speech Milestones- The First 5 Years

As a Speech Therapist, I’m rehearsed in the early milestones babies and toddlers should be meeting. I have studied what typical childhood development looks like. But, when I became a mom, I dwelled on each little thing – and worried each month as my daughter got older. Is she on target? Is this normal? Shouldn’t she be doing that by now?

It’s easy to know the literature. It’s an entirely different matter to apply that knowledge to the development of my child.

So, let’s start with the basic’s today. What should you be looking for in your child’s development, and when should you be concerned?This is by no means an extensive list. I’ve highlighted a few milestones at each age for us busy mommas. Check it out below!

Photo by Anna Shvets

2 Months:

  • Begins to make cooing and gurgling sounds
  • Begins to take notice of where sound is coming from

4 Months:

  • Affection starts to develop. Your baby should begin to smile.She will let you know if she is happy or sad with a smile or a cry
  • Recognizes people and faces
  • Coos

6 Months:

  • Babbling with consonants and vowels. (ohh, ah, ma, da)
  • Responds to her name
  • Vocalizes pleasure and displeasure sounds differently (laughs, giggles, cries, or fusses)
  • Makes noise when spoken to

9 Months:

  • Strings together sounds (dada dada, gagagaga)
  • Development of Object Permanence – Aware that when you remove or hide an object it does not disappear 
  • Tries to Repeat Sounds
  • Understands ‘no-no’
  • May Say “mama” or “dada” without meaning behind it
Photo by Rene Asmussen

1 Year:

  • First word! This is when your child says a word that has intentional meaning (“mama” for mom, “baba” for bottle, or a true word such as “dog” “no” )
  • Waving to gesture hello or goodbye
  • Shakes head yes or no to answer questions nonverbally
  • Repeating simple small words such as “more” “me” “dog” etc.

18 Months:

  • Expanding vocabulary and developing new consonant sounds
  • Follows simple requests and directions (“go sit down”, “get your shoes”)
  • Points to pictures in books
  • Asks for common foods by name
  • Can make animal sounds

2 Years:

  • Your child should have at least 50-100 words in her vocabulary by two years of age
  • Follows 2 step related directions (grab your coat and stand at the door)
  • Strings 2 words together to form phrases ( “hi mama”, “want food”, “read book”)
  • Knows some spatial concepts, such as “in” or “on”
  • Knows pronouns, such as “you,” “me” or “her

3 Years:

  • Knows descriptive words, such as “big” or “happy”
  • Uses 3-word sentences
  • Uses question inflection to ask questions ( “my shoe?”)
  • Speech is becoming more accurate, but may still leave off ending sounds or present with some articulation errors
  • Answers simple questions in a phrase or sentence
  • Uses plurals, such as “shoes” or “socks”
  • Beings to use regular past tense verbs, such as “walked”
Photo by Artem Podrez

4 Years:

  • Groups objects, such as foods or clothes
  • Identifies colors
  • Uses most speech sounds, but may distort some of the more difficult sounds, such as l, r, s, sh, ch, y, v, z, th. These sounds may not be fully mastered until age 7 or 8.
  • Can verbalize the function of objects (a car is to drive)
  • Can Verbalize his/her feeling and emotions
  • Uses verbs that end in “ing,” such as “jumping” 

5 Years:

  • Understands spatial concepts, such as “behind” or “next to”
  • Uses some irregular past tense verbs, such as “ran” or “fell”
  • Can describe an item at length
  • Can carry on a conversation
  • Understands Rhyming
  • Understands basic of a book (how to hold it, first page, where to begin reading)

If your child is not meeting each milestone at that exact age, do not panic. It is normal for kids to develop at their own pace. Some children are ‘late talkers’ and develop speech late. Factors such family dynamics and number of languages spoken in the home can influence the rate at which a child develops language. Make certain to attend all regularly scheduled doctor visits and report missing milestones at that time. For more detailed information on speech and language milestones, visit and

American Speech and Hearing Association(ASHA)provides comprehensive information regarding speech development throughout the years.

The Center for Disease Control, CDC (whom we are all familiar with thanks to COVID!) has awesome videos and sound clips depicting milestones for speech, gross motor, and fine motor skills.


Published by Bethany Z

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. I am a Christian, wife, mom, and speech language pathologist. I started this site out of a desire bridge the gap between a traditional therapy setting and the home setting. Parents are the most powerful influencers in a child's developement! My goal is to enable YOU to meet your childs speech needs while sharing glimpses of my life along the way.

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