All about Age-Appropriate Speech and Language Milestones

All about Age-Appropriate Speech and Language Milestones

Posted on November 8th, 2023.

Speech and language development is a fascinating journey that every child embarks on from birth. As parents, caregivers, or educators, understanding age-appropriate speech and language milestones is crucial to ensure that children are on the right track.

In this guide, we will explore the key milestones, shedding light on what you can expect and how you can support your child's language development.


Before we delve into specific age milestones, let's first grasp the fundamentals of normal language development for a toddler. Language development encompasses both receptive (understanding) and expressive (speaking) language skills. It's essential to remember that every child is unique, and these milestones are general guidelines. Some children may reach them a bit earlier or later, and that's perfectly normal.

Age-Appropriate Speech and Language Milestones

What is the Normal Language Development for a Toddler?

Toddlers typically follow a pattern of language development that can be broken down into stages:

  • Prelinguistic Stage (0-12 Months): In the first year of life, babies communicate through crying, cooing, and babbling. They start to imitate sounds and engage in turn-taking with caregivers.
  • First Words (12-18 Months): Around their first birthday, toddlers usually say their first words. These words often relate to familiar objects or people in their lives, such as "mama" or "dada."
  • Vocabulary Growth (18-24 Months): From 18 to 24 months, toddlers rapidly expand their vocabulary. They begin to use two-word phrases, like "more juice" or "big ball."
  • Telegraphic Speech (24-36 Months): Toddlers progress to using three or more words in their sentences. However, their speech may still be simplified and omitting some grammar rules.
  • Language Explosion (36+ Months): After the age of 3, children experience a language explosion. They start forming complex sentences, asking questions, and expressing their thoughts and feelings more effectively.

Now that we have a foundational understanding of typical language development, let's explore the specific milestones at various stages.

2-Month-Old Milestones

At the tender age of 2 months, babies are just beginning their journey into the world of communication. Here's what you can expect:

  • Cooing and Gurgling: Your baby will start making cooing and gurgling sounds, which are their way of interacting with you. Responding to these sounds encourages them to continue.
  • Social Smiles: Around this age, babies often start flashing those heart-melting social smiles when they see familiar faces. They are learning the power of positive interaction.
  • Attentive to Sounds: Babies at 2 months are highly responsive to sounds in their environment. They may turn their heads towards voices and sounds.
  • Eye Contact: You'll notice your baby making more prolonged eye contact with you, another sign of their growing social skills.

To support your 2-month-old's speech and language development, engage in simple conversations with them, sing nursery rhymes, and provide a stimulating environment filled with different sounds and textures.

5-Month-Old Milestones

By the age of 5 months, babies are becoming more communicative and expressive. Here's what to look out for:

  • Babbling: At 5 months, your baby's babbling becomes more pronounced. They may experiment with different sounds and syllables like "ba-ba" or "ga-ga."
  • Response to Name: Your baby should respond to their name being called, indicating that they recognize it.
  • Laughter: You'll often hear delightful baby laughter as they find joy in interactions and play.
  • Exploring Sounds: Babies at this age love making sounds with toys and discovering the cause-and-effect relationship between their actions and the sounds they produce.

To encourage speech and language development at 5 months, engage in interactive play, respond to their babbling, and read simple board books together.

10-Month-Old Milestones

At 10 months, babies are rapidly progressing in their language development. Here's what you can expect:

  • Mimicking Sounds: Your baby may start mimicking everyday sounds, like the sound of a phone ringing or a dog barking.
  • Simple Gestures: They may use simple gestures like waving "bye-bye" or pointing at objects to express their desires or interests.
  • Understanding Words: Babies at this age can comprehend and respond to simple words and commands, like "clap your hands" or "give me the toy."
  • Imitating Words: Some babies may attempt to imitate words or parts of words, although their pronunciation will be far from perfect.

To nurture their language skills at 10 months, engage in activities that involve naming objects, describing daily routines, and singing songs with repetitive lyrics.

18-Month Milestones

As your child reaches 18 months, their speech and language abilities continue to develop. Here are some milestones to anticipate:

  • Expanding Vocabulary: By 18 months, your toddler may have a vocabulary of around 50 words or more. They can name familiar objects and people in their life.
  • Two-Word Phrases: Many toddlers begin combining two words to form simple phrases, such as "more juice" or "big ball."
  • Asking Simple Questions: They may start asking basic questions like "what's that?" or "where's mommy?"
  • Pointing and Naming: Your child will likely point to objects and name them, showing an understanding of language.

To enhance your child's speech and language development at 18 months, engage in conversations, ask open-ended questions, and read together regularly.


Understanding age-appropriate speech and language milestones is vital for supporting your child's development. While these milestones provide a general framework, it's essential to remember that children develop at their own pace. If you have concerns about your child's speech and language development, don't hesitate to reach out to a speech therapist for guidance and support.

At Dempster Therapeutic Services, we are here to assist you in every step of your child's speech and language journey. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an evaluation, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us at 847-999-3990 or via email at [email protected]. Book a Free Discovery Call today!

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