Developmental Milestones

Skills in speech (sound pronunciation) and language (listening, understanding and using words) develop in an orderly way, although the pace may differ for different children. Below are general guidelines. Most children will show the listed skills within six months of the times listed. Please click on the age of your child on the buttons below to view the general guidelines according to age.

0 - 6 MONTHS

0 - 3 Months

  • Begin to make contact with you and/or familiar adults
  • Alert to sound and move in response to voice
  • Watch speaker's mouth
  • Discriminate between angry and friendly voices
  • Quiets to familiar voices
  • Vocalized to show pleasure
  • Has a distinguishable cry (hunger, pain)
  • Makes sounds in back of throat

3 - 6 Months

  • Maintains eye contact with speaker
  • Turns head to voice
  • Imitates facial expressions with adults
  • Reaches for and hits objects
  • Begins to recognize his/her own name
  • Responds to "no"
  • Smiles in response to speech
  • Takes turns vocalizing
  • Makes "raspberries"

6 - 12 MONTHS

6 - 9 Months

  • Imitates gestures of an adult
  • Responds to noises that are not visible and searches for hidden objects
  • Attends to pictures
  • Begins to play with adults
  • Responds to "no" most of the time
  • Moves toward and looks for family members when named
  • Responds to "Come here"
  • Vocalizes in response to objects that move
  • Shouts or vocalizes to gain attention
  • Uses a variety of sounds as new words are added to the child's lexicon.

9 - 12 Months

  • Plays "Peek-a-boo"
  • Waves hi and bye
  • Holds toy out to show others
  • Responds to some verbal requests such as giving objects and gesturing when asked "want up?"
  • Identifies two body parts on self
  • Participates in speech routine games like "So Big"
  • Says "mama" or "dada"
  • Says 1-2 words spontaneously
  • Uses a variety of sounds as new words are added

12 - 18 MONTHS

12 - 15 Months

  • Initiates turn-taking routines
  • Hugs toy animals, dolls, people
  • Hands toys to adults
  • Follows one-step commands during play ("Put it on")
  • Responds to "give me"
  • Identifies three body parts on self or doll
  • Understands prepositions (up/down)
  • Shakes head yes or no
  • Says 8-10 words spontaneously
  • Tries to sing along with familiar songs
  • Imitates new words
  • Imitates three animal sounds

15 - 18 Months

  • Plays ball with an adult
  • Imitates housework activities
  • Identifies self in mirror
  • Requests assistance from adult for help
  • Identifies six body parts and/or clothing
  • Chooses two familiar objects when asked
  • Identifies objects by categories (blocks)
  • Uses 15 meaningful words
  • Asks for "more"
  • Asks "what's that?"
  • Names 5-7 objects when asked
  • Uses consonants /p, m, h, w, b/

18 - 24 MONTHS

18 - 21 Months

  • Pretends to play musical instruments
  • Pretends to dance
  • Uses two toys together in pretend play
  • Identifies four body parts and clothing items
  • Follows directions "Sit down" and "Come here"
  • Understand the meaning of action words
  • Identifies pictures named
  • Imitates two and three word phrases
  • Requests toys or food with vocalizations and gestures
  • Names some pictures

21 - 24 Months

  • Pushes items in pretend play (stroller, lawn mower)
  • Stacks and assembles toys and objects
  • Matches sounds to pictures of animals
  • Puts toys away upon request
  • Follows two-step related commands ("Get your shoes and bring it to me")
  • Says two-word phrases frequently
  • Say three-word phrases occasionally
  • Says own name to refer to self

24 - 30 MONTHS

24 - 27 Months

  • Pretends to write
  • Pretends to talk on the phone
  • Slaps hand in response to "Gimme five"
  • Points to four action words in pictures
  • Understands size concepts (big/little)
  • Understands the concept of one ("Give me one XXX")
  • Imitates two numbers or unrelated words
  • Uses three-word phrases frequently
  • Uses action words (e.g. sit, eat, cry, sleep, kick, throw, roll)
  • Correctly produces vowel sounds
  • Phonemic inventory includes /m, p, b, w, h, n, t, d/

27 - 30 Months

  • Matches shapes and colors
  • Responds to simple questions ("Where's mommy?")
  • Understands two prepositions/location phrases, such as on, in, by, under
  • Names one color
  • Refers to self by pronouns consistently
  • Uses two sentence types (declarative sentences - "Dog eat" and questions "mommy go?")
  • Uses past tense (regular or irregular forms)
  • Uses negation (no, not, don't)
  • Approximately 51-70% intelligible

30 - 36 MONTHS

30 - 33 Months

  • Sorts shapes by shape
  • Stacks rings in correct order
  • Follows two-step unrelated commands ("give the dog the shoe and bring me the cup")
  • Understands the concept all
  • Answers yes/no questions correctly
  • Uses plurals and prepositions
  • States gender
  • Says first and last names
  • Phonemic inventory begins to include /p, b, t, d, g, k, m, n, s, f, h, "ch", w, j, l/

33 - 36 Months

  • Plays house
  • Sorts colors
  • Follows three-step unrelated commands
  • Identifies parts of objects
  • Uses verb form -ing
  • Asks and answers "wh" questions including "what, who, where"
  • Talks in sentences 3-5 words in length
  • Counts to 3
  • Recites some nursery rhymes
  • Uses multisyllabic words
  • Begins to use all final consonants and appropriate sound classes at the word level and is 80% intelligible


  • Engages in parallel play and begins to use pretend play
  • Has a word for almost everything and speech is understood typically by familiar listeners
  • Asks and answers "wh" questions including "what, who, where"
  • Uses final consonants, air sounds, and both voiced and voiceless sounds
  • Uses the sounds /p, m, h, w, b/ consistently and is beginning to use /t, n, k/
  • Identifies parts of objects
  • Uses present progressive (-ing) on verbs, plural, possessives in communication
  • Matches and Sorts by color & shape
  • Knows a minimum of 2-3 colors
  • Follows 2-step, unrelated commands
  • Sentences usually consist of 2-4 words
  • Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them
  • Understands the concepts of all, away from, big, busy, good, happy, hungry, on, out of, scared, sleepy, soft, tall, tired, together, and under


  • Uses the sounds /t, d, n, k, g, f/ consistently
  • Recites nursery rhymes easily with repetition
  • Uses a variety of verb tenses, plurals, and negation
  • Usually talks without repeating syllables or words
  • People outside the family understand his/her speech with ease
  • Understands future and past events
  • Rote counts to 10
  • Listens to short stories
  • Knows the concepts of circle, frightened, full/empty, high/low, in back of/in front of, less/more, light/dark, little, lost, mean, next to, square, surprised, around, beside, bored, top, toward, up/down, strong, day/night
  • Uses most sentences with 4 or more words
  • Has eliminated the need for reduplication, fronting, deletion of syllables, reduction of clusters, and uses air sounds /f, s, v, z/
  • Recalls a story with a minimum of 3 events


  • Pays attention to short stories and easily answers questions about the story
  • Understands negotiation and compromise for conflict resolution
  • Uses sentences that give lots of detail
  • Speaks in complex and compound sentences
  • Tells stories that stick with a topic
  • Play is preplanned, elaborate, and sustained
  • Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school
  • Initiates, turn-takes and fully participates in conversations appropriately by themselves
  • Uses appropriate grammar
  • Understands "how to" tasks and offer more long-term solutions to problems
  • Uses most sounds correctly, except /r, "th", "sh, ch"/

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