Developmental Milestones

Speech and Language Milestones from Birth to 4 years

The following list has been adapted from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website. Please go to for more detailed information on speech and language development.

At 1 year, your child…
Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
Turns and looks in direction of sounds and responds to requests (“Come here”)
Recognizes words for common items like “cup”, “shoe”, “book”, or “juice”
Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as “tata upup bibibibi”
Uses speech or noncrying sounds to get and keep attention
Uses gestures to communicate (waving, holding arms to be picked up)
Has one or two words (hi, dog, dada, mama) around first birthday, although sounds may not be clear

At 2 years, your child…
Points to a few body parts when asked
Follows simple commands and understands simple questions (“Roll the ball,” “Kiss me)
Points to pictures in a book when named
Says more words every month
Uses some one- or two- word questions (“Where kitty?” “Go bye-bye?” “What’s that?”)
Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words

At 3 years, your child…
Understands differences in meaning (“go-stop,” “in-on,” “big-little,” “up-down”)
Follows two requests (“Get the book and put it on the table”)
Listens to and enjoys hearing stories for longer periods of time
Uses two- or three- words to talk about and ask for things
Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time
Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them
Asks why?
May stutter on words or sounds

At 4 years, your child…
Understands words for order, like first, next, and last
Understands words for time, like yesterday, today, and tomorrow
Follows longer directions, like “Put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, and then pick out a book.”
Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school
Says all speech sounds in words. May make mistakes on sounds that are harder to say, like l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, th
Responds to “What did you say?”
Talks without repeating sounds or words most of the time
Names letters and numbers
Uses sentences that have more than 1 action word, like jump, play, and get May make some mistakes, like “Zach got 2 video games, but I got one.”
Tells a short story
Keeps a conversation going