More Speech & Language Answers


Thanks to all of you who have reached out to me regarding communication disorders. I’ve still been sorting through your email questions about speech, language, and hearing; and I’ve tried to respond personally to any messages that raised serious red flags.

Many of you had specific questions about your child’s development. In order to answer as many of those in one generic swoop, I’ve pasted some important milestones below from the the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

Please remember that developmental charts are based on normative data and that all children develop at different rates. While your children may not reach every milestone according the these charts, it is recommended that you speak to your family healthcare provider about any of these stages that aren’t met accordingly. 

Birth to 5 months

  • Reacts to loud sounds
  • Turns head toward a sound source
  • Watches your face when you speak
  • Vocalizes pleasure and displeasure sounds (laughs, giggles, cries, or fusses)
  • Makes noise when talked to

6-11 months

  • Understands “no-no”
  • Babbles (says “ba-ba-ba” or “ma-ma-ma”)
  • Tries to communicate by actions or gestures
  • Tries to repeat your sounds

12-17 months

  • Attends to a book or toy for about two minutes
  • Follows simple directions accompanied by gestures
  • Answers simple questions nonverbally
  • Points to objects, pictures, and family members
  • Says two to three words to label a person or object (pronunciation may not be clear)
  • Tries to imitate simple words

18-23 months

  • Enjoys being read to
  • Follows simple commands without gestures
  • Points to simple body parts such as “nose”
  • Understands simple verbs such as “eat” or “sleep”
  • Correctly pronounces most vowels and n,m,p,h – especially at the beginning of syllables or short words
  • Begins to use other speech sounds
  • Says 8 to 10 words (pronunciation may still be unclear)
  • Asks for common foods by name
  • Makes animal sounds such as “moo”
  • Starting to combine words such as “more milk”
  • Begins to use pronouns such as “mine”

2-3 years

  • Understands about 50 words at 24 months
  • Understands some spatial concepts such as “in” or “on”
  • Understands pronouns such as “you,” “me,” “her”
  • Understands descriptive words such as “big” or “happy”
  • Says around 40 words at 24 months
  • Speech is becoming more accurate but may leave off ending sounds
  • Strangers may not be able to understand much of what is said
  • Answers simple questions
  • Begins to use more pronouns such as “you” or “I”
  • Speaks in two to three word phrases
  • Uses question inflection to ask for something: “My ball?”
  • Begins to use plurals such as “shoes” or “socks” and regular past tense verbs such as “jumped”

Remember, the best way to help a child develop appropriate speech and language skills is to interact as much as possible. Talk to your child about everything you are doing. Read. Sing. Play. Laugh. Love. And report any concerns to your healthcare provider.

Happy Summer!

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