Milestones for a Toddler / Child’s Speech (Birth to 5 Years)

Milestones for a Toddler / Child’s Speech (Birth to 5 Years)
Jan 21, 2021 49 Comments Speech and Language Therapy swedesh

This article describes the expected milestones of normal speech for the different ages from birth through to 5 years old (toddler / child).

We as parents get great comfort and satisfaction from hearing our toddler or child utter their first words. Parents stake claim to fame that their name – “Mum”, “Dad” was the child’s first words.

Parents try their best to give their children lots of experiences. Experiences of taste, touch, smells and of course sounds. This enhances and improves the child’s learning and development of their speech.

The elephant in the room and the big question of every parent’s mind is how well my child is progressing.

While every child learns to speak at his or her own pace, general milestone guidelines serve as a guide to normal speech and language development for different age groups. These milestones help speech therapists determine when a child might need extra help.

These guidelines are explained using receptive language skills and expressive language skills.

What is receptive language?

Receptive language is the “input” of language, the ability to understand and comprehend spoken language that you hear or read.

For example, a child’s ability to listen and follow directions (e.g. “put on your coat”) relies on the child’s receptive language skills.

What is expressive language?

Expressive language is the “output” of language, the ability to express your wants and needs through verbal or nonverbal communication. It is the ability to put thoughts into words and sentences in a way that makes sense and is grammatically correct.

Children that have difficulty communicating their wants and needs may have expressive language difficulties or an expressive language disorder. For example, children may have expressive language difficulties if they are unable to tell you when they need to use the bathroom or when they are hungry.

Milestones for speech and language development for a child below 3 months old.

Receptive languageExpressive LanguageActivities to encourage your child’s language
• This is a child’s growth phase.
• The development is improved at this stage by more stimulation.
• Typical responses to stimulation by the child are laughing, giggling, gurgling, crying, making incoherent noises or fussing.
• During this age, the child is learning how to use their organs, so the more stimulation the better.
• You may also notice that they cry different sounds depending on their different needs.
• They will also recognize your voice and smile when you appear.  
There will be some random sounds like ‘A’/ ‘E’     Responds to speaker by smiling• In  the first few weeks,  introduce  simple, age-appropriate toys that appeal to the senses of sight, hearing, and touch, such as: rattles textured toys musical toys unbreakable crib mirrors.
• Try toys and mobiles with contrasting colors and patterns.
• Strong contrasts (such as red, white, and black), curves, and symmetry stimulate an infant’s developing vision.
• Put on  soothing music /songs or lullaby. Use a favorite toy for your newborn to focus on and follow, or shake a rattle for your infant to find.
• Check if your child can hear. See if she turns to noises or looks at you when you talk.
• Pay attention to ear problems and infections, and see your doctor.
• Respond to your child. Look at him when he makes noises.
• Talk to him. Imitate the sounds he makes.  
Child - early stimulation is enhanced with playing with toys.

Milestones for speech and language development for a child 3 to 6 months

Receptive languageExpressive LanguageActivities to encourage your child’s language
• Move his or her eyes in the direction of sounds
• Respond to changes in the tone of your voice
• Heightened awareness with toys that make sounds
• During this development phase, baby will most likely coo, laugh and experiment with different sounds.
• This may be accompanied by gestures like waving. Babbling incoherent sounds is also common, where it may seem like they are having a conversation.
• Make gurgling sounds when left alone or when playing with you.  
• See if she turns to noises or looks at you when you talk.
• Pay attention to ear problems and infections, and see your doctor.
• Respond to your child. Look at him when he makes noises.
• Talk to him. Imitate the sounds he makes. Laugh when she does.
Imitate the faces she makes.
• Teach your baby to imitate actions, like peek-a-boo, clapping, blowing kisses, and waving bye-bye. This teaches him how to take turns. We take turns when we talk. • Talk about what you do during the day. Say things like “Mommy is washing your hair”; “You are eating peas”; and “Oh, these peas are good!”.
• Talk about where you go, what you do there, and who and what you see. Say things like, “We are going to Grandma’s house. Grandma has a dog. You can pet the dog.” Teach animal sounds, like “A cow says ‘moo.’”
• Read to your child every day. Talk to your child in the language you are most comfortable using.
Toddler playing toys. Early stimulation enhances speech in later years.

Milestones for speech and language development for a child 6 – 12 Months

Receptive languageExpressive LanguageActivities to encourage your child’s language
Turn and look in the direction of a sound, – recognize their name and turn to look when you are calling• More vocalisations • The first words start around 12 months.  
• try to imitate sounds;               
• try to say a few words, “dada”, “mama”.
• Respond to your child’s coos, gurgles, and babbling
• Talk to your child as you care for him or her throughout the day
• Read colorful books to your child every day • Tell nursery rhymes and sing songs
• Teach your child the names of everyday items and familiar people
• Take your child with you to new places and situations
• Play simple games with your child such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake” activities to encourage your child’s language.
• Talk to your child as you do things and go places. For example, when taking a walk, point to and name what you see. Say things like, “I see a dog. The dog says ‘woof.’ This is a big dog. This dog is brown.” Use short words and sentences that your child can imitate.
• Use correct grammar. Talk about sounds around your house. Listen to the clock tick, and say “t-t-t.” Make car or plane sounds, like “v-v-v-v.”
• Play with sounds at bath time. You are eye-level with your child. Blow bubbles, and make the sound “b-b-b-b.” Pop bubbles, and make a “p-p-p-p” sound. Engines on toys can make the “rrr-rrr-rrr” sound.
• Add to words your child says. For example, if she says “car,” you can say, “You’re right! That is a big red car.”
• Read to your child every day. Try to find books with large pictures and a few words on each page. Talk about the pictures on each page. Have your child point to pictures that you name. Ask your child to name pictures. He may not answer at first. Just name the pictures for him. One day, he will surprise you by telling you the name. Talk to your child in the language you are most comfortable using.  
LoL Child ready her first book.

Milestones for speech and language development for a child 12 – 18 Months

Receptive languageExpressive LanguageActivities to encourage your child’s language
Turn and look in the direction of a sound, – recognize their name and turn to look when you are calling• More vocalisations • The first words start around 12 months.  
• try to imitate sounds;              
• try to say a few words, “dada”, “mama”.
• Respond to your child’s coos, gurgles, and babbling
• Talk to your child as you care for him or her throughout the day
• Read colorful books to your child every day • Tell nursery rhymes and sing songs
• Teach your child the names of everyday items and familiar people
• Take your child with you to new places and situations
• Play simple games with your child such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake” activities to encourage your child’s language.
• Talk to your child as you do things and go places. For example, when taking a walk, point to and name what you see. Say things like, “I see a dog. The dog says ‘woof.’ This is a big dog. This dog is brown.” Use short words and sentences that your child can imitate. Use correct grammar.
• Talk about sounds around your house. Listen to the clock tick, and say “t-t-t.” Make car or plane sounds, like “v-v-v-v.”
• Play with sounds at bath time. You are eye-level with your child. Blow bubbles, and make the sound “b-b-b-b.” Pop bubbles, and make a “p-p-p-p” sound. Engines on toys can make the “rrr-rrr-rrr” sound.
• Add to words your child says. For example, if she says “car,” you can say, “You’re right! That is a big red car.”
• Read to your child every day. Try to find books with large pictures and a few words on each page. Talk about the pictures on each page. Have your child point to pictures that you name. Ask your child to name pictures. He may not answer at first. Just name the pictures for him. One day, he will surprise you by telling you the name. Talk to your child in the language you are most comfortable using.  

Milestones for speech and language development for a child 2 years old

Receptive languageExpressive LanguageActivities to encourage your child’s language 
• Follow simple commands • and Will  understand simple questions
• Understands some wh questions
• Understands new words easily
• Speak about 50 or more words
• Use 3 -4 word sentences
• Ask one- to two-word questions, e.g. “Go bye-bye?”
•  Use simple phrases, such as “more milk
• Repeat new words over and over.
• Help your child listen and follow instructions by playing games: “pick up the ball,” “Touch Daddy’s s nose” .
• Take your child on trips and talk about what you see before, during and after the trip.
• Let your child tell you answers to simple questions.
• Read books every day, perhaps as part of the bedtime routine.
• Listen attentively as your child talks to you. Describe what you are doing, planning, thinking.
• Have the child deliver simple messages for you (Mommy needs you, Daddy ). Carry on conversations with the child, preferably when the two of you have some quiet time together.
• Ask questions to get your child to think and talk. Show the child you understand what he or she says by answering, smiling, and nodding your head. Expand what the; child says. If he or she says, “more juice,” you say, “Adam wants more juice.”  

Milestones for speech and language development for a child 3 years old

Receptive languageExpressive LanguageActivities to encourage your child’s language
• Understands stories,
• Understands the function of things/objects 
• Begins to understand one and two step instructions
Speak about 100050 or more words Uses 4 to 5 words in sentences
• Begins to use more pronouns, such as “you”, “I”, or “me”.
• Names at least one color
• Name common objects
• Knows some spatial / location concepts, such as “in” or “on”.
• Talk about how objects are the same or different.
• Help your child to tell stories using books and pictures.
• Let your child play with other children.
• Read longer stories to your child.
• Pay attention to your child when he’s talking.
• Talk about places you’ve been or will be going.
Young Child receiving speech therapy lesson. Practicing the "S" sound.

Milestones for speech and language development for a child 4 years old

Receptive languageExpressive LanguageActivities to encourage your child’s language
• Answers complex 2-part questions.
• follows commands even though object not present.
• accurately relays a short story.
• 4-8 words in sentence
• uses grammatically correct sentences.
• uses some irregular plurals, 1500900-2000 words.
• asks question about function can speak of imaginary conditions e.g. I suppose that, I hope that. -stays with one activity for 11-12 minutes.
• Describes how to do things, such as painting a picture.
• Points to colors red, blue, yellow and green Identifies triangles, circles and squares.
• Asks many questions, asks “who?” And “why?”
• Help your child sort objects and things (ex. things you eat, animals. . )
• Teach your child how to use the telephone.
• Let your child help you plan activities such as what you will make for dinner.
• Continue talking with him about his interests.
• Read longer stories to him Let her tell and make up stories for you.
• Show your pleasure when she comes to talk with you.

Milestones for speech and language development for a child 5 years old

Receptive languageExpressive LanguageActivities to encourage your child’s language
• Understands words for order, like firstnext, and last.
• Follows longer directions, like “Put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, and then pick out a book.”
• Follows classroom directions, like “Draw a circle on your paper around something you eat.”
• Hears and understands most of what she hears at home and in school.  
• Says all speech sounds in words.
• May make mistakes on sounds that are harder to say, like  rth. • Responds to “What did you say?”
• Tells a short story.
• Keeps a conversation going.
• Talks in different ways, depending on the listener and place. Your child may use short sentences with younger children.
• Praise your child when she talks about her feelings, thoughts, hopes and fears.
• Comment on what you did or how you think your child feels.
• Sing songs, rhymes with your child.
• Continue to read longer stories.
• Talk with him as you would an adult. Look at family photos and talk to him about your family history.
• Listen to her when she talks to you.   Give your child 2-step directions, like “Get your coat from the closet and put it on.”.
• Let your child tell you how to do something. Draw a picture that he describes.
• Write down your child’s story as she tells it.
• Your child will learn the power of storytelling and writing.
• Play board games with your child. This will help him learn to follow rules and talk about the game.
• Have your child help you plan daily activities. For example, have her make a shopping list for the grocery store. Or, let her help you plan her birthday party. Ask her opinion, and let her make choices.
• Talk to your child in the language you are most comfortable using.

Conclusion

Our children are precious gifts. The more we nurture them the faster they will improve and grow.

Every child progresses at their own pace. The above are rough milestones for a toddler / child for speech progress through the ages.

If you read and benefitted from this post, please leave a comment below. Tell us how you benefitted and let us know of any other child stimulation suggestions that you have used in the past.

If your child does not conform to these guidelines, please contact a speech therapist. We at Nishara Mooruth and Associates are skilled speech therapists to assist you and your child. Come in for an appointment or a remote consultation session.

References

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