Speech Development Expectations: From Infancy to Preschool

Although every child learns to speak at his or her own pace, parents want to know if their child’s speech and language development is on the right track. There are general milestones which are helpful in understanding age-appropriate speech development expectations from infancy to preschool. These guidelines can help parents and other caregivers to know if extra help might be needed.

Proper Hearing Is Essential For Speech DevelopmentSpeech therapist working with a child on a correct pronunciation using a prop with a letter 'a' picture.

Parents should pay close attention to possible hearing issues if their child is not responding to sounds or not developing language skills. Children reach milestones at different ages, but if your child is not reaching certain age appropriate milestones and you suspect there may be a hearing loss issue, talk with your child’s physician.

Normal Development From Birth Through Five Months

Babies will make sounds when happy or unhappy. They may coo, laugh, and giggle when happy. They will be fussy or cry when unhappy like when they are hungry, tired, or need changing. Furthermore, they will make some type of noise or outward reaction when spoken to. They should recognize your voice and smile when they see you.

Normal Development From Six Through Eleven Months

During this time your child might say their first word. They may say ma-ma and da-da, and understand no-no. They should make babbling sounds and react to your words by trying to repeat them. They may also try to communicate by gesturing.

Normal Development From Twelve to Seventeen Months

By now your child should have a vocabulary of 4 to 6 words and will try to imitate simple words. They may try to identify or label a person or object saying 1 to 2 words, but they may not be completely clear. They should turn in the direction of sounds.

Normal Development From Eighteen to Twenty-Three Months

Typical development will have your child combining words like “more juice” and asking for food by name. Using pronouns and having a 50 word vocabulary is common, although the words may not be clear. They should know and be able to make animal sounds.

Normal Development From Age Two To Three

Includes the following:

  • Uses 3 word sentences
  • Uses pronouns like you, me, and I
  • Knows descriptive words like happy
  • Answers simple questions
  • Uses plurals and past tense

Normal Development From Age Three To Four

Includes the following:

  • Strangers understand much of what your child is saying
  • Can describe the uses of objects
  • Enjoys poems and laughs at jokes
  • Uses verbs ending in -ing, like walking and talking
  • Can repeat sentences
  • Answers simple questions

Normal Development From Age Four To Five

Your child should answer “why” questions and understand spatial concepts like behind and next to. They should understand sequences like what happened 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Most children have an imagination by age 5 and can create a story as well as engage in conversation.

Talk with your child about what is happening, what you are doing, and where you are going. Read to them every day and sing together. Practice animal sounds and counting. All these interactive practices will improve their language and social skills.

If you have any suspicions that your child is not developing normal language skills for his or her age, contact Kids First Pediatrics of Raeford and Fayetteville at (910) 848-5437 for recommendations.