Your Baby’s Speech Development Checklist

The first 3 years of life, when the brain is developing and maturing, is the most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills. These skills develop best in a world that is rich with sounds, sights, and consistent exposure to the speech and language of others.

There appear to be critical periods for speech and language development in infants and young children when the brain is best able to absorb language. If these critical periods are allowed to pass without exposure to language, it will be more difficult to learn.

Use this speech development checklist to ensure your child is progressing at the right pace in their communication. If you find many check-boxes in the “no” column, it may be time to consult with a speech professional about your child’s development.

Birth to 3 Months

Reacts to loud sounds

Calms down or smiles when spoken to

Recognizes your voice and calms down if crying

When feeding, starts or stops sucking in response to sound

Coos and makes pleasure sounds

Has a special way of crying for different needs

Smiles when he or she sees you

4 to 6 Months

Follows sounds with his or her eyes

Responds to changes in the tone of your voice

Notices toys that make sounds

Pays attention to music

Babbles in a speech-like way using many different sounds, including sounds that begin with p, b, and m

Laughs

Babbles when excited or unhappy

Makes gurgling sounds when alone or playing
with you

7 Months to 1 Year

Enjoys playing peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake

Turns and looks in the direction of sounds

Listens when spoken to

Understands words for common items such as “cup,” “shoe,” or “juice”

Responds to requests (“Come here” or “Want more?”)

Babbles using long and short groups of sounds (“tata, upup, bibibi”)

Babbles to get and keep attention

Communicates using gestures such as waving or holding up arms

Imitates different speech sounds

Has one or two words (“Hi,” “dog,” “Dada,” or “Mama”) by first birthday

1 to 2 Years

Knows a few parts of the body and can point to them when asked

Follows simple commands (“Roll the ball”) and understands simple questions (“Where’s your shoe?”)

Enjoys simple stories, songs, and rhymes

Points to pictures, when named, in books

Acquires new words on a regular basis

Uses some one- or two-word questions (“Where kitty?” or “Go bye-bye?”)

Puts two words together (“More cookie” or “No juice”)

Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words

2 to 3 Years

Has a word for almost everything

Uses two- or three-word phrases to talk about and ask for things

Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds

Speaks in a way that is understood by family members and friends

Names objects to ask for them or to direct attention to them

3 to 4 Years

Hears you when you call from another room

Hears the television or radio at the same sound level as other
family members

Answers simple “Who?” “What?” “Where?” and “Why?” questions

Talks about activities at daycare, preschool, or friends’ homes

Uses sentences with four or more words

Speaks easily without having to repeat syllables or words

This checklist is based upon How Does Your Child Hear and Talk?, courtesy of the American Speech–Language–Hearing Association.

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