Hearing, Language, and Speech Developmental Milestones: Birth to Five Years

Birth — 3 Months

  • Startles to loud sounds
  • Listens to voices
  • Starts using his/her voice to make vowel-like sounds such as "ouuuu" and "aaaah"
  • Quiets to familiar voices

3 — 6 Months

  • Looks towards the source of sound
  • Babbles with repeated consonant-vowel combinations such as "gaga" or "baba"
  • Squeals when excited
  • Starts developing different consonant sounds

6 — 12 Months

  • Locates source of sound from either his/her left or right side
  • Stirs or wakes to loud sound when sleeping quietly
  • Responds to "no-no" and his/her name
  • Uses "mama" and/or "dada" as well as one other word
  • Likes sound play such as music or singing
  • Imitates sounds of familiar phrases (ow-ow)

12 — 18 Months

  • Responds to soft sounds by turning and looking
  • Identifies familiar objects and pictures when named
  • Identifies wants by naming common objects like "juice"
  • Matches objects and sounds (dog goes "bow wow")
  • Knows 10 to 50 single words

18 — 24 Months

  • Follows simple instructions
  • Points to 3-5 body parts
  • Identifies more than 100 objects by name
  • Begins to combine words

2 — 3 Years

  • Knows and uses more than 300 words correctly
  • Begins to use sentences with more than 3-4 words
  • Uses pronouns such as "he" and "she" correctly
  • Uses language to make needs and wants known

By 4 Years

  • Identifies common colors and shapes correctly
  • Asks "who" and "why"
  • Understands and uses past verb tense correctly
  • Knows almost 1500 words
  • Makes most consonant sounds correctly including m, n, ng, p, f, h, w, y, k, b, d, g
  • Uses contractions such as "it's" or "there's"
  • Can be understood easily by adults unfamiliar with the child's speech

By 5 Years

  • Follows commands of 3 related directions correctly such as "get the cup with milk, drink some, and give the rest to Mommy."
  • Describes activities that occurred in the past
  • Understands almost 3000 words and uses 2000 words


If you have any concerns about your child's hearing, speech, and/or language development, discuss your concerns with your pediatrician or primary health care provider. Free hearing, speech, language, and developmental screenings are available through your school district's "Child Find" program. Call your local RiteCare Childhood Language Program for information about additional resources in your community. You may also call the Scottish Rite Foundation of Colorado office in Denver at 303-861-2410 (toll free 866-289-6797) or Email us at r-i-t-e-c-a-r-e at scottish-rite-foundation dot org.

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