These milestones are a framework for how children typically develop in speech, language, social and play skills. Each child is an individual and develops at their own rate, but it can helpful to use a framework to help you know what you might expect and when.

Child at 6 Months


  • Makes sounds in response to singing and other sounds

  • Makes speech-like babbling sounds, like pa, ah, mi and oh

  • Strings vowels together when babbling, like bababa, or upupup



  • Responds to own name

  • Responds to noises and sounds

  • Likes taking turns with caregiver while making sounds


  • Maintains eye contact

  • Likes taking turns with caregiver while making sounds

  • Attempts to interact with familiar adults


  • Smiles at themselves in the mirror

  • Reaches for objects

  • Bangs object together in play

Child at 1 Year


    • Tries to say words, like “mama” and “dada”

    • Imitates many consonant and vowel sounds

    • Tries to say words caregiver says


    • Understands common words for items and people (ball, milk, book, shoe, mama)

    • Follows simple commands  (give me, come here)

    • Vocalizes when excited or upset

    • May say one or two words (dada, mama, hi, baba, dog, ball, no)


    • Looks at person calling their name

    • Waves “hi” and “bye”

    • Points to objects to show them to others


    • Enjoys games like “peek a boo”

    • Tries to get items out of reach

    • Uses some toys appropriately (pushes a toy car)

Child at 18 Months


  • Uses consonants /p/, /b/, /m/, /w/ and /h/ in words

  • Produces several animal sounds

  • Varies pitch when talking


      • Follows 1 step commands

      • Identifies body parts and clothing items

      • Understands at least 50 words

      • Says several single words


  • Points, shows and gives objects

  • Uses words to protest

  • Initiates turn taking routines (passing a toy car back and forth)


  • Explores toys purposefully through trial and error

  • Plays ball with adult

  • Hands toy to an adult for assistance

Child at 2 Years


    • ​Speech is at least 50% understandable to strangers



    • Understands simple questions: “yes/no” and “what’s that?”

    • Understands concepts “in/on/off/under” and “big/little”

    • Follows many 1 step directions and some 2 step directions

    • Says at least 50 words

    • Combines 2 words (more juice, want up, doggy walk)


    • Takes turns during simple conversations

    • Copies adults and other children

    • Plays mainly beside other children and is beginning to include other children


    • Uses common objects and toys appropriately (toy phone to ear, stacks blocks)

    • Plays simple make believe games

    • Pretends to eat with a fork or stir a spoon

    • Plays with dolls – brushes hair, feeds doll a bottle, covers doll with blanket

Child at 3 Years


      • Speech is at least 75% understandable to strangers

      • Uses /t/, /d/, /k/ and /g/ sounds correctly when talking


  • Follows 2 and 3 step directions

  • Answers variety of concrete questions

  • Shows interest in how and why things work

  • Says full name, age, and gender

  • Uses different types of words: nouns, adjectives, verbs, pronouns

  • Talks about past events

  • Formulates sentences with at least 3 to 4 words


  • Plays cooperatively, takes turns, shares toys with other children

  • Converses with adults and peers using sentences

  • Shows a wide range of emotions


  • Uses imagination in play with dolls, animals and people

  • Acts out familiar routines (bedtime, mommy and baby)

  • Play will include less frequent experiences  (doctor and sick child, teacher and student)

Child at 4 Years


  • Speech is at least 95% understandable to strangers

  • May make mistakes on sounds that are harder to say (/s/, /z/, /v/, /r/, /th/)


  • Answers questions about 1 page of a simple book he/she has listened to

  • Comprehends complex sentences

  • Asks and responds to abstract questions “how/why/when/what if”

  • Uses simple and complex sentences with at least 5 to 6 words

  • Tell stories about recent experiences


  • Would rather play with other children than by himself

  • Talks about what they like and don’t like


  • Creates imaginary roles and uses props to carry out long play scenarios

  • Uses dolls and puppets to carry out scenes

Child at 5 Years


  • Speech is 100% understandable to strangers

  • Few articulation errors may persist, including the “r” and “th” sounds


    • Answers questions about a book he/she has listened to

    • Comprehends all types of questions

    • Follows lengthy, complex directions

    • Uses compound sentences with conjunctions

    • Tells stories with full sentences in a logical sequence


  • Develops friendships

  • Wants to please friends and be like friends

  • Can differentiate between reality and fantasy

  • Shows more independence


    • Plans highly imaginative sequence of pretend events

    • Organizes what he/she needs to carry out multiple scenes – objects and other children