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Carroll Woman Magazine

Speech and Language Developmental Milestones

Nov 03, 2014 09:46PM
During the First Year - Speech and language developmental milestones

At SPEECH PATHways we are often asked by nervous parents, “When will my child talk?” It is normal for new parents to wonder if their newborn child is progressing at a typical rate of development in terms of their speech and language skills. Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer for parents. Developmental speech and language milestones develop in a RANGE so it may be difficult to pinpoint an actual delay without the assistance of a professional.

In general, children should be using a few words meaningfully by the time that they are one year old. Words do not need to be “pronounced” correctly – they can be approximations but they need to be meaningful across contexts. An example would be the use of “ba” for “ball.” Your child will begin to use a variety of gestures in order to assist in his/her communication skills. They do this because they cannot completely rely on their verbal skills at this time. An example of functionally using gestures would be pointing to get needs met and/or lifting arms “up” to indicate “please pick me up.” By the time your child reaches the age of one, they will understand a lot more language and directions that they can communicate. This is completely normal and to be expected. Most children will recognize between 50-100 words receptively. They should begin to follow simple directions and respond to “no” and to their name when called. Socially, your child will begin to wave “hi” and “bye” and will have an interest in interacting socially with others. It is important that you reinforce your child’s vocalizations and attempts to communicate. Teach your baby to imitate through simple repetitive games such as peek-a-boo. Give language to your actions by talking about what you are doing, are going to do or did (i.e. “Mommy is washing dishes now.” “Mommy is going night-night.” or “Mommy made lunch.”) Teach animal and environmental sounds (beep-beep, vroom-vroom). If you notice that your child is not developing these skills during their first year of life, then a talk with your pediatrician and/or a certified speech and language pathologist is warranted. It is never too early to begin intervention for speech and language delays.

Mom with ToddlerBirth to 3 Months

Startles to loud sounds

  • Quiets or smiles when spoken to
  • Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying
  • Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound
  • Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)
  • Cries differently for different needs
  • Smiles when sees you
4 to 6 Months

Responds to changes in tone of your voice

  • Notices toys that make sounds
  • Pays attention to music
  • Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m
  • Chuckles and laughs
  • Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
  • Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with you
7 months to 1 year

Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake

  • Turns and looks in direction of sounds
  • Listens when spoken to
  • Recognizes words for common items like “cup”, “shoe”, “book”, or “juice”
  • Begins to respond to requests (e.g. “Come here” or “Want more?”)
  • Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as “tata upup bibibibi”
  • Uses speech or non-crying sounds to get and keep attention
  • Uses gestures to communicate (waving, holding arms to be picked up)
  • Imitates different speech sounds
  • Has one or two words (hi, dog, dada, mama) around first birthday, although sounds may not be clear
*This list of milestones is not comprehensive. For more information, please refer to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association ( or Kimberly Bell at for more information

By Kimberly Bell, M.S, CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist and owner of SPEECH PATHways in Westminster, Maryland.