Developmental Milestones

Pragmatic Language/Play
How we use language to affect others in a social manner

Receptive Language
How we understand and interpret language

Expressive Language
How we use language to communicate

0 – 6 Months

Pragmatic Language / Play

  • Responds and attends to voices and sounds
  • Establishes eye contact
  • Recognizes familiar faces
  • Smiles in response to speech

Receptive Language

  • Reacts to sounds in the environment (e.g., squeaky toy)
  • Responds to “no”
  • Responds to name

Expressive Language

  • 0-2 Months: Produces vegetative/reflexive sounds (e.g., coughing, burping, grunting)
  • 2-4 Months: Produces cooing and laughing sounds
  • 4-6 Months: Engages in vocal play
6 – 12 Months

Pragmatic Language / Play

  • Maintains eye contact to gain attention
  • Searches for hidden objects
  • Mouths objects
  • Imitates simple actions
  • Engages in social games (“peek-a-boo”)
  • Uses gestures and vocalizations (e.g., coo, squeal, laugh, shout) to request objects and actions, refuse, and comment

Receptive Language

  • Turns when name is called
  • Turns to locate the source of a sound
  • Responds to “come here”
  • Understands simple words (e.g., cup, truck, mommy)

Expressive Language

  • 6-10 months: Uses canonical/reduplicated babbling of consonant-vowel (CV) syllables (e.g., “baba”)
  • Practices adult-like intonation using jargon babbling
12 – 18 Months

Pragmatic Language / Play

  • Establishes joint attention
  • Waves hi and bye
  • Repeats actions that elicit laughter
  • Requests assistance from adults by handing them objects
  • Pairs gestures with words to request
  • Initiates turn-taking
  • Vocalizes or shakes head for “no”
  • Uses social words (“hi,” “bye”)
  • Engages in parallel play

Receptive Language

  • Follows simple one-step commands
  • Identifies familiar body parts
  • Identifies familiar real-life objects

Expressive Language

  • Says first word
  • 18 months: Uses an average expressive vocabulary of between 50 and 100 words
18 – 24 Months

Pragmatic Language / Play

  • Engages in functional play
  • Uses two objects together in play
  • Uses communicative acts (i.e., gestures or words) to request information, answer questions, and acknowledge others

Receptive Language

  • Identifies action words
  • Identifies familiar objects in pictures
  • Understands the following simple spatial and directional concepts: in, on, under, up, down
  • Follows two-step related commands (e.g., “Get the diaper and bring it to me.”)

Expressive Language

  • 24 months: Uses an average expressive vocabulary of between 200 and 300 words
  • Begins to produce two-word utterances
  • Uses ‘telegraphic’ utterances with few grammatical markers (e.g., “mama go,” “want juice”)
2 – 3 Years

Pragmatic Language / Play

  • Engages in pretend/symbolic play (e.g., feeding a baby with a spoon, pretending to talk on the phone)
  • Participates in social exchanges (e.g., high five)
  • Shows interest in peers and briefly joins play
  • Participates in simple group activities
  • Carries on “conversation” with self and dolls
  • Looks for missing toys
  • Makes conversational repairs
  • Uses “please” for polite requests
  • Misrepresents reality (e.g., tells lies, teases)
  • Creates narratives that are ‘heap stories’ (i.e., primarily labels and descriptions)

Receptive Language

  • Understands size concepts
  • Understands the concept of “one” (e.g., “Get one cup.”)
  • Follows two- and three-step unrelated commands (e.g., “Give the dog the bone and bring me a book.”)
  • Understands the concept of “all” (e.g., “Put all the blocks in the bag”)
  • Answers yes/no questions
  • Understands the following pronouns: me, my, your
  • Understands the following complex spatial concepts: off, out of, together, away from

Expressive Language

  • Asks simple wh- questions (where, what, what doing, one-word why)
  • Uses present progressive -ing, plural -s, possessive -s
  • Uses prepositions “in” and “on”
3 – 4 Years

Pragmatic Language / Play

  • Requests with increased flexibility (e.g., can you, would you)
  • Maintains conversational topic
  • Offers solutions to problems
  • Takes turns and shares toys with peers
  • Reads facial cues
  • Recalls and gives details of past experiences

Receptive Language

  • Answers wh- questions, including where, what’s that, what doing, who is
  • Understands use of objects (e.g., “Show me what you wear on your foot”)
  • Follows commands involving quantitative concepts (empty, a lot)
  • Follows commands involving equality (same, both)
  • Understands the following spatial concepts: next to, beside, between

Expressive Language

  • Labels (names) pictured objects
  • Produces 3-4 word utterances
  • Uses regular third person singular tense (e.g., “She eats”)
  • Uses regular past tense verbs
  • Uses irregular past tense (e.g., “He drank”)
  • Uses articles (a, the) and possessive -s (e.g., “The girl’s cat”)
  • Uses a variety of nouns, verbs, modifiers, and pronouns
4 – 5 Years

Pragmatic Language / Play

  • Shares feelings
  • Predicts outcomes to stories
  • Expresses opinions

Receptive Language

  • Identifies (points to) colors
  • Understands the following complex spatial concepts: in back of, next to, in front of
  • Understands the following pronouns: his, her, he, she, they
  • Understands comparative and superlative adjectives (e.g., big, bigger, biggest)
  • Understands the following time concepts: yesterday, today, tomorrow, first, then, next, last week, next week
  • Identifies positional concepts (e.g., first, middle, last)

Expressive Language

  • Produces 4-5 word utterances
  • Answers all wh- questions, including how questions
  • Asks all wh- questions, including how, whose, and why questions
5 – 6 Years

Pragmatic Language / Play

  • Asks meanings of words
  • Chooses own friends
  • Asks questions for information
  • Invites others to play
  • Uses language to resolve disputes with peers
  • Engages in cooperative play (playing fairly, making group decisions, assigning roles)

Receptive Language

  • Identifies (points to) advanced body parts (e.g., elbow, forehead, eyelashes, wrist)

Expressive Language

  • Uses comparative and superlative adjectives (e.g., “loud,” “louder,” “loudest”)
  • Answers “How are things the same / different?”
  • Names ordinal numbers, such as “first,” “second,” “third”
  • Describes how an object is used
  • Answers questions about hypothetical events (e.g., “What would you do if you felt sick?”)

Note: These milestones are meant to be interpreted as fluid, with early developing skills listed toward the beginning of each age group and later developing skills listed toward the end of each age group.

Sources:

  • Developmental Checklists Birth to Five from the Early Childhood Direction Center (2006)
  • Linguisystems Guide to Communication Milestones 2008
  • ASHA (https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/chart/)
  • Pragmatics Checklist Ricki Block, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Pro-Ed Early Childhood Development Chart 2006 2nd Ed
  • NYS Early Learning Guidelines 2012
  • Sequenced Inventory of Communication Development
  • The Rosetti Infant-Toddler Language Scale
  • Preschool Language Scale
  • Rhea Paul Language Disorders from Infancy through Adolescence 3rd Ed. 2007

Are you concerned about your child’s progress in speech and language development?

Contact Karen
Contact Karen & Chicago Speech Therapy

Are you concerned about your child’s progress in speech and language development?

Contact Karen
Contact Karen & Chicago Speech Therapy