Typical development of speech and language skills (0-3 years old) 

Newborn to 3 months 

• Startles to loud sounds 

• Quiets or smiles when spoken to 

• Seems to recognize your voice 

• Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound 

• Makes pleasure sounds (cooing) 

• Cries differently for different needs 

• Smiles when he sees you 

4 to 6 months 

• Moves eyes in direction of sound 

• Responds to changes in your voice 

• Notices toys that make sounds 

• Pays attention to music 

• Babbling sounds (more speech-like); many different sounds including “p, b, m” 

• Vocalizes excitement and displeasure 

• Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with you 

7 months to 12 months 

• Enjoys games and peek-a-boo 

• Turns and looks in direction of sounds 

• Listens when spoken to 

• Recognizes words for common items like “cup”, “shoe”, “juice” 

• Begins to respond to requests (“Come here,” “Want more?”) 

• Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as “tata upup bibibi” 

• Uses speech or non-crying sounds to get and keep attention 

• Imitates different speech sounds 

• Has 1 or 2 words (bye bye, dada, mama) although they may not be clear 

• Uses communicative gestures such as pointing and pulling 

12 months to 15 months 

• Maintains attention to pictures 

• Understands simple directions especially with vocal or physical cues 

• Uses one or more words with meaning 

15 months to 18 months 

• Says more words each month; vocabulary of 5-20 words 

• Vocabulary composed mainly of nouns 

• Much jargon-like speech 

• Able to follow simple commands without cues (“Get your bear.”) 

18 months to 21 months 

• Points to a few body parts when named 

• Follows simple commands and understands simple questions (“Roll the ball,” 

“Where’s your shoe?”) 

• Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes 

• Points to pictures in a book when named 

• Uses many different consonant sounds at beginning of words 

• Expressive vocabulary of 25-50 words 

• Uses some 1-2 word questions (“What’s that?” “Daddy?” “Bye bye?”) 

• Puts 2 words together (“more cookie”, “no juice”, “Mommy book”) 

• Language explosion around 18-24 months; vocabulary of 150-300 words by 24 


24 months to 36 months 

• Understands differences in meanings of words (in/out, go/stop, up/down) 

• Follows two requests (“Get the book and put it on the table”) 

• Has a word for almost everything 

• Uses 2-3 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 

36 months 

• Hears you when you call from another room 

• Answers simple “who?,” “what?,” “where?,” “why?” questions 

• Talks about activities at school or friend’s home 

• People outside family usually understand child’s speech 

• Uses a lot of sentences that have 4 or more words 

Reflection Task

Think about a student in your class. How do they communicate with you ?

St Ann's School
Headteacher: Gillian Carver

Springfield Road, Hanwell W7 3JP
Google Maps / StreetMap

Phone: 02085676291 
Fax: 02088404664


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