Speech Milestones for Young Children

by | Jan 3, 2023 | News

People develop speech and language skills throughout their lives, but the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders discusses that the first three years are the most intense. There are certain age periods that tend to be more important than others, and if parents and caretakers do not expose children to language and various sounds, they may have more challenges with language and learning throughout life.

Important Milestones for Speech and Language Development in Young Children

Although infants and toddlers develop differently, there are some milestones they should meet by the time they reach certain ages.

Birth to 6 Months

Although infants are unable to speak yet, there are a variety of ways that they communicate. Some of the communication styles that a baby may be doing by 6 months of age include:

  • Smile or react when spoken to
  • Make different sounds, such as cooing, gurgling and babbling
  • Use voice to express various emotions
  • Respond to music
  • Move eyes in the direction of one’s voice and different sounds

6 to 12 Months

A baby during these 6 months begins to communicate more clearly. Some things they may be doing include:

  • Attempt to use gestures to communicate
  • Vocalize simple words, such as ma-ma, da-da, no-no or uh-oh
  • Turn head towards sounds and voices
  • Recognize certain words for common items
  • Attempt to repeat sounds

12 to 18 Months

Once toddlers reach 18 months, they may be able to:

  • Speak between four and 10 words
  • Nonverbally answer easy questions
  • Try to mimic simple words
  • Recognize names of well-known body parts, people or toys
  • Follow easy and straightforward directions

18 to 24 Months

Speech becomes a daily part of many toddlers’ lives once they reach the age of 2. Some things they may be able to do include:

  • Ask questions made up of one or two words and vocalize simple phrases
  • Speak around 50 words, although the pronunciation may not be clear
  • Make animal sounds
  • Understand easy questions and commands
  • Begin to use pronouns

2 to 3 Years

The language of a 2 to 3-year-old becomes more understandable, especially for parents and caretakers. Some milestones during this period include:

  • Use inflections when asking a question
  • Understand simple spatial conceptions
  • Use sentences with three words and answer simple questions
  • Start to use past tense and plurals
  • Understand descriptive words

Receive Assistance for Speech Development

If a toddler does not reach the typical milestones for speech and language, the parents should speak to their pediatrician. Reasons for a developmental delay may include specific language impairments, speech disorders or hearing loss. Catching language delays early allows parents to get the help their children need.

Depending on the cause for the delays, a doctor may recommend hearing aids, therapy or speech pathology. Parents can also play a role in speech and language development by communicating with the child, singing songs, practicing letters and counting, reading and giving positive feedback.

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