Developmental Milestones

developmental-milestonesAll children develop language at their own pace. The following guidelines will give you a reference point to use to help determine whether your child is demonstrating a delay in communication skills.

Your concerns can be discussed with your pediatrician, classroom teacher and/or a certified speech/language pathologist.

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Age Receptive Language Expressive Language
1 year Familiar nouns (dog, juice, car)
Simple requests, yes/no questions
Early prepositions (on, under, in)
Imitates sounds (animals)
Uses vocalizations with intent
Points or gestures to communicate
2 years Familiar verbs (eat, play, go)
Follow basic 1-step commands
Point to body parts, clothes, toys
Combine 2 words (more juice)
Vocabulary of approximately 50-100 words
Uses basic pronouns (me, mine)
3 years Follow basic 2-step directions
Understand wh-questions (what, who, where)
Concepts such as big/little, more/less
Use 3-4 word sentences
Uses plurals, prepositions and pronouns
Asks simple questions
4-5 years Understand complex sentences
3+ step directions
Vocabulary exceeds 1000 words
Able to carry on a conversation
Uses complex sentences
Tells a story about self
Answers WHY questions


Speech sounds follow developmental milestones as well. It is common for children to exhibit sound substitutions and/or distortions up until age 7-8 years old. As a rule of thumb, a child should be intelligible to all listeners by the age of 4-5 years, even while sounds continue to develop. The following should serve as a guideline to when sounds are expected to develop.

Age Sounds
By 6 months cooing, babbling (“bababa”)
By 1 year Imitates sounds, first real words
By 2 years Approximately 50% intelligible
3-4years Approximately 75% intelligible
Vowels, p, b, m, t, d, n, k, g, h, w
4-5 years Approximately 90-100% intelligible
f, v, sh,, ch, j, y
5-7 years l, r, th, s, z