Speech and Language Developmental Milestones

6 months

  • Laughs, gurgles, coos with familiar people
  • Babbles for attention
  • Experiments with sounds /ba/ /da/ /ka/ /ma/
  • Interacts with adults using vocalisation and eye contact
  • Searches for a speaker/turns head toward a voice
  • Discriminates between threatening and friendly voices

12 months

  • Imitates the names of familiar objects
  • Imitates sound combinations
  • Says 3-5 words including mama/dada spontaneously
  • Recognizes the names of a few familiar objects
  • Looks at person saying child’s name
  • Follows simple directions occasionally

18 months

  • Says 50+ meaningful words.
  • Uses words to make wants/needs known (ie: “more” “up”
    “cookie” “juice”)
  • Imitates familiar words overheard in conversation
  • May begin combining words into 2-word phrases (ie: “more cookie”)
  • Identifies 3-5 body parts
  • Brings familiar object from another room on request (ie: “Go get
    your cup.”)
  • Follows simple directions consistently

24 months

  • Uses 200+ words
  • Combines words into 2 and some 3-word utterances
  • Uses a few early pronouns (ie: I, me, mine)
  • Begins asking ‘wh’ questions
  • Identifies pictures when named by an adult
  • Chooses objects from a large group on request
  • Understands simple questions and commands

30 months

  • Uses 400+ words
  • Uses 2 sentence types (ie: statement and question)
  • Refers to self by pronoun consistently
  • Responds to simple questions using words
  • Answers yes/no questions, but may confuse ‘yes’ versus ‘no’
  • Understands early concepts (ie: big/little, “one”)
  • Parallel play predominates

36 Months

  • Uses verb forms and modifiers (adjectives) in phrases/sentences
  • Expresses physical states (ie: hungry, tired, thirsty)
  • Unfamiliar listeners are able to understand child 90% of the time
  • Answers yes/no questions correctly
  • Beginning to understand some prepositions
  • Follows more complex directions
  • Beginning interest in cooperative/interactive play with small groups
  • Imaginative play begins to emerge

4 – 5 years of age

  • Plays cooperatively in groups of 2-3 children; chooses companions
    of own sex
  • Suggests turns and begins to share, but can be bossy in play
  • Child is most intelligible to unfamiliar listeners
  • Consistently combines 4-5 words in sentences and uses complex
    sentences frequently
  • Begins to use “Is” at the beginning of questions
  • Regular plural forms are consistent; irregular plural forms are
  • Uses simple past tense verbs
  • Participates in detailed conversations
  • Appropriately answers “What if” questions.
  • Follows commands involving 3 actions
  • Makes conversational “repairs” when the listener has not

5-6 years of age

  • Understands concepts of time (am/pm, yesterday/today)
  • Uses all pronouns correctly and consistently
  • Emerging use of adverbial word endings (slowLY, fastER)
  • Syntax/grammar rules are followed majority of time
  • Plans sequence of pretend events in play and uses props/language
    to develop a theme
  • Has the majority of consonant sounds mastered and is intelligible
    to unfamiliar listeners without interpretation (MAY still substitute
  • Can state similarities and differences of objects


At Melbourne Speech Clinics we realise that professional terminology can be confusing.To help you, here is an array of terminology you may encounter.View Resources