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Communication Milestones

Image by hessam nabavi

0-3 Months

  • Smiles in response to sound or voice

  • Turns head towards sound or voice

  • Shows interest in faces

  • Makes eye contact

  • Cries differently for different needs (e.g. hungry vs. tired)

  • Coos and smiles

Crib Mobile

4-6 Months

  • Listens and responds when spoken to

  • Begins to use consonant sounds in babbling, e.g. “da, da, da”

  • Makes different kinds of sounds to express feelings

  • Notices toys that make sounds

  • Uses babbling to get attention

Red Head Baby

7-9 Months

  • Uses increased variety of sounds and syllable combinations in babbling

  • Looks at familiar objects and people when named

  • Participates in two-way communication

  • Shows recognition of commonly used words

  • Simple gestures, e.g. shaking head for “no”

  • Imitates sounds

Image by Alexander Dummer

10-12 Months

  • Meaningfully uses “mama” or “dada”

  • Responds to simple directions, e.g. “Come here”

  • Produces long strings of gibberish (jargoning)

  • Says one or two words

  • Imitates speech sounds

  • Pays attention to where you are looking and pointing

Railroad Set

15 Months 

  • May use 5-10 words

  • Combines sounds and gestures

  • Imitates simple words and actions

  • Consistently follows simple directions

  • Shows interest in pictures

  • Can identify 1-2 body parts when named

  • Understands 50 words

Toddler with Wooden Toys

18 Months 

  • Responds to questions

  • Repeats words overheard in conversation

  • Continues to produce speech-like babbling

  • Points at familiar objects and people in pictures

  • Understands “in” and “on”

  • Responds to yes/no questions with head shake/nod

Portrait of adorable little boy sitting on the windowsill and crying. Upset child covering

21 Months

  • Uses at least 50 words

  • Consistently imitates new words

  • Names objects and pictures

  • Understands simple pronouns (me, you, my)

  • Identifies 3-5 body parts when named

  • Understands new words quickly

the little kid climbs up a wooden plate in the gym.jpg

24 Months 

  • Begins to use 2 word phrases

  • Uses simple pronouns (me, you, my)

  • Understands action words

  • Uses gestures and words during pretend play

  • Follows 2-step related directions e.g. “Get you stuffy and bring it to me”

  • Enjoys listening to stories

Playing with Baby Doll

30 Months 

  • Consistently uses 2-3 word phrases

  • Uses “in” and “on”

  • At least 50% of speech is understood by caregiver

  • Follows 2-step unrelated directions, e.g. “give me the ball and go get your coat”

  • Understands basic nouns and pronouns

  • Understands “mine” and “yours”

Two little kids blond boy and girl build with help of adult tower on the table in kinderga

By 36 Months 

  • Asks “what” and “where” questions

  • Uses plurals, e.g. “dogs”

  • Most speech is understood by caregiver

  • Simple understanding of concepts including color, space, time

  • Understands “why” questions

  • Understands most simple sentences

Toddler playing with learning toys at home or kindergarten. Baby sorting organising object

3-4 Years 

  • Children learn many new words by listening to adults and guessing from context​

  • Knows/uses names for groups of things like ‘vegetables’ or ‘animals’

  • Knows family terms like ‘brother’ or 'sister'

  • Name basic emotions like ‘happy’, ‘sad’ and ‘angry'

  • Learning more about how to put words together into sentences

  •  Begin to use more complex sentences that include words like ‘because’, ‘so’, ‘if’ and ‘when’ – for example, ‘I don’t like that because it’s yucky’

  • Understand the basic rules of grammar. E.g. possessives - ‘daddy’s hat’. You’ll hear past and present tense too, like ‘talked’ and ‘talk’

  • Child might be using ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘me’ correctly. But they might confuse the use of negatives

Kids in Preschool

4-5 Years 

  • By 4 years speech sounds are still developing; might still have trouble pronouncing words that include the sounds ‘l’, ‘th’ or ‘r’

  • Child is able to have several back and forth conversational turns

  • Begin to tell stories with a beginning and end, but may need prompts to keep the story going

  • Child will be able to do some simple negotiation with other children. For example, they’ll be able to talk about who can play with a toy first 

  • By 5 years and beyond, children can mostly use the correct forms of verbs to talk about past and future events – for example, night, day and yesterday

  • Understand irregular past tense -  ‘broke’, ‘threw’ and ‘ate’ rather than ‘breaked’, ‘throwed’ and ‘eated"

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