While every child learns to speak at his or her own pace, general milestones can serve as a guide to normal speech and language development. These milestones can also be a guide for parents, teachers, doctors, and therapist to identify delays as early as possible.
By the end of three months, a child might:
By the end of six months, a child might:
By the end of 12 months, a child might:
By the end of 18 months, a child might:
By the end of 24 months, a child might:
When to check with the doctor or seek an evaluation with a speech pathologist
Parents should speak with the child's doctor if he or she hasn't mastered most of the speech and language development milestones for his or her age or if the family is concerned about any aspect of the child's development. The sooner a child receives early intervention services (like speech pathology), the quicker the delay can be resolved. This typically leads to shorter time periods that speech therapy is needed. Speech delays occur for many reasons, including hearing loss and developmental disorders. A speech pathologists will be able to do a full evaluation of your child’s language skills; however, many insurance companies will require a doctor referral and/or a hearing test to see if there is a medical reason behind the delayed speech.
When you are with the child, take every possible opportunity to talk to him. Explain to her what you are doing and where you are going. Ask questions about his day, even if he may not understand all of the vocabulary yet. Sing songs and read together. Teach the child to imitate actions, such as clapping, and to say animal sounds. Practice counting. Show the child that you're pleased when he or she speaks. Listen the child's sounds and repeat them back to him or her. These steps can encourage speech and language development.
Dr. Sarah Vanover has been working in the field of early childhood education for over 22 years and has had the opportunity to be a teacher, a director, and a trainer for other early childhood educators. She has a passion for making sure that children with special needs receive high-quality early care and education.