Babies learn speech and language in predictable stages and at expected ages. Have you ever wondered if your child is on track with his or her speech and language development? In this guide, you will learn the usual stages of speech and language development from birth to 4 years of age. We will see how speech typically emerges and what you should expect as your child grows.
Every child develops at a unique pace and their developmental process may vary even from their own siblings. Keeping this in mind, if you notice anything unusual or deviation from the typical milestones, please consult with your child’s speech language pathologist or pediatric.
At first, kids start to recognize voices and are able to communicate with gazes, smiles, or crying. Then, gradually they start to coo, gurgle and babble. Repeated sounds like “ma-ma, ba-ba, ga-ga,” also begin at this age. They enjoy producing sounds of different pitches and volumes. They also try to mimic sounds of others.
Children in this age group are able to turn their head in the direction of sound of voice. They begin to recognize when their name is being called. They are able to understand words of common items and look at familiar people when named. At around 10-12 months, they learn to respond to social routines such as waving bye-bye and nodding their head "no". They imitate different speech sounds, simple words, and actions. By 12 months, babies are able to say 1-2 meaningful words like mama, hi, bye.
One year olds are able to follow simple commands like "Bring the ball" or "Close the door". They can identify common items such as animals, household items as well as body parts. They are able to respond to yes or no questions. By 15 months, they are able to imitate simple words and actions and combine them with gestures to convey their wants and needs.
Two year olds have a vocabulary inventory of 150 to 200 words and 75% of words are understandable by strangers. They are able to follow simpler requests like “give me the bottle" or "put the ball in the basket.” They can respond to "where" questions and point to items when asked to identify them through pictures. They can name their favorite toy or food and produce 2-word phrases such as “no ball", "where ball", "want water" or "more cookies.”
Children in this age group can answer “who, what and where” questions. They can respond to two-part orders like “put your shirt in the cupboard and socks in the drawer.” Language is clear and fluent and strangers can understand it. They can produce complete 3 to 4-word phrases with correct pronouns, prepositions and plurals.
In a nutshell, language is one of the most critical developmental milestones. Every child grows at his own pace but early exposure to language can help the child to learn expressive and receptive language skills better and quicker.
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