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Hearing, Speech, and Language Milestones

Hearing is vital to your child’s development. It affects how your child speaks, learns, and communicates. Below are common speech and hearing milestones for most children. When comparing your child’s development to the milestones, keep in mind that each child develops at a different rate. And trust your instincts when it comes to your child. If you think there's a problem or you are concerned, talk with your child’s healthcare provider.



Birth to 3 months


  • Reacts to familiar sounds or voices. For example, calms down when hearing parent’s voice.

  • Reacts to sudden loud sounds. May blink, startle, or cry.

  • Makes vocal sounds other than crying.

3 months to 4 months


  • Looks in the direction of a sound to see where it’s coming from.

  • Makes sounds back when you talk to them.

  • Makes sounds, such as “oooo” and “ahhh” (cooing).

4 months to 6 months


  • Laughs.

  • Takes turns making sounds with you.

  • Makes squealing sounds.

  • Blows “raspberries” (sticks tongue out and blows).

6 months to 9 months


  • Babbles, making repetitive sounds, such as “mama” and “baba.”

  • Looks when you call their name.

  • Smiles or laughs when you play peek-a-boo.

9 months to 12 months


  • Understands "no."

  • Waves "bye-bye."

  • Calls a parent "mama" or "dada" or other special name.

12 months to 15 months


  • Tries to say 1 or 2 words besides “mama” or “dada,” like “ba” for ball or “da” for dog.

  • Follows simple directions when given with both a gesture and word. For example, they give you a book when you hold your hand out and say, "Give me the book."

  • Looks at a familiar object when you name it.

  • Points to ask for something or get help.

15 months to 18 months


  • Tries to say 3 or more words besides “mama” or “dada.”

  • Follows 1-step directions without any gestures, like giving you an object when you say, “Give it to me.”

18 months to 24 months


  • Combines at least 2 words into short phrases such as “more cookie” or “want milk.”

  • Points to at least 2 body parts when you ask him to show you.

  • Uses more gestures than just waving and pointing, like blowing a kiss or nodding yes.

  • Points to things in a book when you ask, like “Where is the fish?”

24 months to 30 months


  • Says about 50 words.

  • Says 2 or more words, with 1 action word, like “Doggie run.”

  • Names things in a book when you point and ask, “What is this?”

  • Says words like “I,” “me,” or “we.”

  • Follows simple routines when told, like helping to pick up toys when you say, “It’s clean-up time.”

30 months to 3 years


  • Talks with you in conversation using at least 2 back-and-forth exchanges.

  • Asks “who,” “what,” “where,” or “why” questions, like “Where is my ball?”

  • Says what action is happening in a picture or book when asked, like “swimming,” “eating,” or “walking.”

  • Says first name, when asked.

  • Talks well enough for others to understand, most of the time.

3 years to 4 years


  • Says sentences with 4 or more words.

  • Says some words from a song, story, or nursery rhyme.

  • Talks about at least 1 thing that happened during their day.

  • Answers simple questions like “What is a pencil for?”

4 years to 5 years


  • Tells a story they heard or made up with at least 2 events. For example, a dog was lost and a friend found it.

  • Answers simple questions about a book or story after you read or tell it to them.

  • Keeps a conversation going with more than 3 back-and-forth exchanges.

  • Uses or recognizes simple rhymes (bat-cat, ball-tall).

Online Medical Reviewer: Amy Finke RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Online Medical Reviewer: Liora C Adler MD
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2022
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