Language Development 0-3 Years
Milestones & Red Flags

Contact your pediatrician and find a local Speech-Language Pathologist if you have any concerns about your child's speech or language.

Language skills can be divided into the following two areas:

RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE

How well we understand what we hear and process.

EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE

How well we express ourselves using sounds, gestures, words, sign language, etc.

  • Quiets or smiles when you talk.

  • Seems to recognize your voice.

  • Moves eyes in the direction of sounds.

  • Responds to changes in tone of voice (smiling with warm/happy tone, becoming scared with loud/angry tone, etc.)

  • Turns and looks in the direction of sounds.

  • Looks when you point.

  • Turns when their name is called.

  • Understands words for common objects and people (cup, car, juice, mommy)

  • Responds to familiar words and phrases (no, come here, want more?, etc.)

  • Plays simple social games (i.e. peek-a-boo)

  • Listens to songs and stories for a short time

  • Points to identify a few body parts.

  • Follows 1-step directions (i.e. 'roll the ball')

  • Responds to simple, familiar questions (i.e. 'who's that?', 'where's dad?', etc,)

  • Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes for 2 minutes.

  • Points to pictures in a books when named.

  • Understands opposites (i.e. go/stop, big/little, on/off, etc.)

  • Understands size differences.

  • Begins to understand time concepts (i.e. soon, later, wait, etc.)

  • Follows 2-step directions (i.e. 'get the spoon and put it on the table)

  • Understands new words quickly.

  • Makes cooing sounds.

  • Cries change for different needs (hunger, needing a diaper change, etc.)

  • Smiles at people

  • Coos and babbles when playing.

  • Babbles include early sounds 'ba', 'ma', 'pa'

  • Giggles and laughs

  • Babbles strings of sounds ('mamama', 'upupup', 'bubububu).

  • Uses sounds and gestures to get and keep attention.

  • Points to objects and shows them to others.

  • Uses gestures, like waving hi/bye, reaching up tp be picked up, shaking head 'no', etc.

  • Imitates different speech sounds.

  • Says 1 to 2 words (hi, dog, dada, mama, uh-oh) around first birthday, but sounds may not be clear.

  • By 18 months uses 50 words.

  • By 24 months uses 200 words.

  • Uses the sounds /p,b,m,h,w/ in words.

  • Starts to names pictures in books.

  • Asks simple questions (i.e. 'what's that?', 'who's that?', 'where is he?', etc.)

  • Puts 2 words together (i.e. 'more apple', 'no bed', etc.)

  • By 3 years uses 1,000 words.

  • Has a word for almost everything.

  • Uses present progressive verb+ing (i.e. drinking).

  • Uses prepositions (i.e. in, on, under).

  • Uses 2-3 word combinations to talk about things and ask for things.

  • People who know your child can understand them well.

  • Asks 'why?'

  • Begins to control others verbally rather than physically.

0-3 Months

4-6 Months

RED FLAGS @ 6 MONTHS

  • Does not laugh or squeal

  • Does not look toward new sounds

7-12 Months

RED FLAGS @ 9 MONTHS

  • Has limited or no babbling

  • Does not indicate when happy or upset

RED FLAGS @ 12 MONTHS

  • Does not point to objects

  • Does not use gestures (wave, shake head)

12-24 Months

RED FLAGS @ 15 MONTHS

  • Has not used first word

  • Does not respond to 'no' or 'bye bye'

RED FLAGS @ 18 MONTHS

  • Does not use 6-10 words consistently

  • Does not discriminate between sounds

RED FLAGS @ 20 MONTHS

  • Does not use at least 6 consonant sounds

  • Does not follow simple directions

RED FLAGS @ 24 MONTHS

  • Uses less than 50 words

  • Has limited interest in social interaction

24-36 Months

RED FLAGS @ 36 MONTHS

  • Strangers have trouble understanding

  • Does not use simple sentences

What Next?