Check Your Child’s Speech and Language Milestones

Make sure your child’s speech and language skills are on track

The holidays are now over. It is time for me to get to my much neglected to do list. I need to organize, clean my closets, and start eating healthy after all those holiday cookies. This year, start the year right by making sure your little ones are on track with their speech and language development. Did you know that strong speech and language skills have a direct correlation to academic success?

Take a look at these speech and language milestones to be sure your child is listening, talking, and using the right speech sounds for their age.


4-9 months babbling (“dadada”, “bababa”, “mama”)
10-12 months vocalizes or gestures to communicate wants and needs
uses sounds to get and keep attention
around first birthday uses first word
12-18 months tries to imitate simple words
5-50 word vocabulary
points to named objects or pictures
uses many different consonant sounds at beginning of words
waves good-bye
understands “no”
18-24 months says more words every month
should have a minimum of 50 words by age 2, may be much larger
beginning to put 2 words together (I.e. “mommy go”, “baby bye-bye”)
can point to simple body parts like eyes
produces animal sounds
2-3 years uses 3-4 word sentences
asks simple questions
names common pictures and items
Uses pronouns such as “I” and “you”
Can tell name and age
can follow simple directions, including 2-step commands
can begin to carry on simple conversation by age 3
3-4 years uses 4-5 word sentences and a vocabulary of several hundred words
asks simple questions
beginning to identify and name colors
can answer simple questions like , “What did you do at school?”
using many grammatical markers correctly like plurals, verb + ing
4-5 years uses 5-8 word sentences and complex sentences
can tell stories
can name/identify colors
has only occasional grammatical errors (I.e irregular verbs)
engages in conversation
describes objects
understands spatial concepts such as, under, behind, next to

Speech/articulation milestones

Speech sound development varies from child to child but there are certain ages that we expect children to have acquired certain sounds. Children may use many of these sounds earlier, but you need to be concerned if they are not using them by the ages listed below and if your child is very difficult to understand.
In general, children should be able to correctly produce the following sounds:

By age 3: p, b, m, w, h, n, t, d
By age 4: k, g , y plus all previous sounds
By age 5: f plus all previous sounds
By age 6: v, l, sh, plus all previous sounds
By age 7: s, z (these sounds should be marked by age 4 but can still be a frontal lisp up to 7), th, ch, j, r plus
all previous sounds

By age 2 you should be able to understand what your child says 50-75% of the time.
By age 3 you should be able to understand your child at least 75% of the time.
By 4-5 years you should understand at least 90-100% of what they say.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech – If your child is very difficult to understand and does not follow the developmental patterns, they need to be evaluated by a speech and language pathologist. Children with apraxia have difficulty with motor planning for speech. Some possible indicators are: inconsistent errors, abnormal rhythm of speech, difficulty producing vowels, unusual errors and increased errors with increased word/sentence complexity. It is very important for children with apraxia to receive speech and language services.


Are you concerned about any of these areas or your child’s development? Please sign up for your free LittleTalkers membership at . You can watch a free video on what to do if you suspect a delay. You can also sign up for my Tiny Talkers Membership, Preschool Talkers Membership or Say What? Membership. These videos and materials will provide you with information on how to help develop your child’s speech and language skills.