Is My Child Speech / Language Developing Normally?                                     

Many parents phone concerned about their child’s speech and language.

Initially, parents should be advised by a Speech Pathologist to see an ENT to have their child’s hearing tested.

There are milestones that are used as the general guide:
By 2 Months a child:

  • should begin smiling at familiar and unfamiliar people as they respond to facial gestures.
  • should react in some manner to loud noises.
  • will turn its head to a familiar voice (mother / father)
  • track objects with its eyes.
  • Cry

By 4 months a child:

  • Should smile at people
  • Should interact with people with eye / hand movement (e.g. Attempt to reach for a toy).
  • Should cry with different tones: when hungry/ tired / when left alone
  • Should be beginning to babble
  • Start to copy the babble that is used by an adult

By 6 months a child:

  • should respond to sounds
  • should enjoy playing with others (mother / father/ older sibling)
  • responds to their name by turning their head
  • stringing vowels and beginning to say consonants (d,d,d,d,d)
  • gurgling to show pleasure

By 9 months a child;

  • knows the difference between the familiar face and unfamiliar face
  • is beginning to understand certain words (e.g. ‘no’)
  • can copy the gestures and sounds of adults / children.
  • Is beginning to point to an object as a form of communication.

By 1 year a child:

  • Makes sounds / gestures to communicate (e.g. shakes head for ‘no’).
  • Uses variation in voice for different needs.
  • Is beginning to say ‘mamma’ and ‘dadda’
  • Is able to track where objects have been hidden
  • Should begin to look at books and focus on specific objects on the page when pointed to

By 18 months a child:

  • Should be saying several single words (mumma/ dadda) or at least making approximations of the intended word (bottle (bobo)
  • Can articulate the words ‘yes’ / ‘no’ clearly.
  • Move his / her head appropriately for ‘yes’ / ‘no’.
  • Point to objects he may want
  • Will put his / her hands up to communicate that he /s he wants to be picked up.
  • Can pretend play (e.g. picks up phone and babbles)
  • Can follow a 1 step instruction (e.g. get cup/ suit down/ stand up/ clap hands).

By 2 years a child:

  • Should have a vocabulary of between 300 to 1000 words
  • Should be speaking in 2 to 4 words sentences.
  • Can follow simple 1 -2 step instructions (get your shoes and come to the door).
  • Can identify objects in a book through pointing.
  • Can naming common objects or making their associated noise (e.g. ‘cow’ or the child may point to the animal and say, “moo’)
  • Should be showing curiosity
  • Should be copying simple words
  • Should know the names of the main body parts and point to them oh his/ her own body and another body.
  • Should be making eye contact
  • Should be able to tap / gesture to get a person’s attention
  • Should be able to hear and learn the intonation for nursery rhymes and join in
  • Is beginning to complete simple peg puzzles
  • Should be able to join in the cants found in fairy tales ( e.g “Fi -FI-FO FUM….”.)

By 2 ½ years a child:

  • Should have a vocabulary of 5000 words.
  • This age is when children’s vocabulary explodes and is a significant time for language development.

By 3 years a child:

  • Should be able to follow 2-3 step instruction (e.g. get your lunch box, drink bottle and pit them in your bag).
  • Should have a vocabulary of over 5000 words
  • Make eye contact; parallel play with peers; engage in turn taking conversation.
  • Copy adults and peers.
  • Can listen to a 10-minute story.
  • Can answer Blank Level 1 & 2   (comprehension)
  • Should be able to name common shapes and colours
  • Should be able to speak in whole sentences that are mainly grammatically correct.
  • Should be able to be understaood 75% of the time by familiar listeners and 50% by unfamiliar listeners.
  • Can join in chants and nursery rhymes.
  • Should be able to understand propositional language ( e.g. ‘in’ ‘on’ ‘under’)
  • Should be able to communicate needs and wants

An amazing website to find out more information on typically developing milestones in children from birth to three years is: