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Milestones for Speech and Language Development

While all children develop at their own pace, the following guidelines provide some general development milestones for speech and language.

By six months

  • turns to source of sounds

  • startles in response to sudden, loud noises

  • makes different cries for different needs - I'm hungry, I'm tired

  • watches your face as you talk

  • smiles and laughs in response to your smiles and laughs

  • imitates coughs or other sounds - ah, eh, buh

By nine months

  • responds to his/her name

  • responds to the telephone ringing or a knock at the door

  • understands being told "no"

  • gets what he/she wants through gestures e.g., reaching to be picked up

  • enjoys being around people

  • babbles and repeats sounds - babababa, duhduhduh

By 12 months

  • follows simple one-step directions (i.e. sit down)

  • look across the room to something to point to

  • consistently uses three to five words

  • use gestures to communicate (i.e. waves bye bye)

  • gets your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes

  • brings you toys to show you

  • "perform" for attention or praise

  • combines lots of sounds as though talking (i.e. abada dabuhabee)

  • show interest in picture books

By 18 months

  • understands the concepts of "in and out", "off and on"

  • points to several body parts when asked

  • uses at least 20 words consistently

  • responds with words or gestures to simple questions - "Where's teddy?", "What's that?"

  • demonstrates some pretend play with toys - gives teddy a drink, pretends a bowl is a hat

  • makes at least four different consonant sounds - p, b, m, n, d, g, w, h

  • enjoys being read to and looking at simple books with you

  • points to pictures using one finger

If you have concerns about your child and their speech and language development, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 for more information.