Chicago Speech Therapy: What Are Common Speech Development Milestones?

It is very natural as a parent to be concerned about your child’s speech development, especially since children often experience various speech abnormalities as a course of learning language. How do you know if your child is developing normally? Is it typical for a child to be experiencing a certain speech “errors” beyond a certain age?

It’s good to know what to expect in your child’s speech at different ages, both to calm your own concerns and so that, if your child is experiencing a speech acquisition abnormality, you would be able to seek professional help in a timely manner. Below are some of the speech “milestones” you can look for in your child’s speech.

0-1 Years

  • Recognizes own name
  • Says 2-3 words with meaning besides “mama” and “dada”
  • Imitates familiar words
  • Can understand simple instructions
  • Recognizes words as symbol for objects (hears car and can point to garage)

1-2 Years

  • Understands “no”
  • Uses 5-20 words, including names
  • Combines two words, such as “daddy bye-bye”
  • Able to use two or more prepositions such as “in” or “on”
  • Can make short sentences, mostly noun-verb combinations
  • Gives a specific toy when asked to
  • Uses words such as “more” to make wants known
  • Approximately 2/3 of speech is intelligible
  • Responds to commands such as “show me your toes.”
  • Has begun using “my” and “mine”

2-3 Years

  • Identifies body parts
  • Carries on a “conversation” with self and dolls/toys
  • Asks “what’s that?” and “where’s my…?”
  • Uses two- word negative phrases such as “no want”
  • Forms some plurals by adding “s”
  • Has a 450 word vocabulary
  • Gives first name, holds up fingers to tell age
  • Verbs are used with increasing frequency
  • Understands simple time concepts such as “last night”
  • Able to appropriately respond to questions such as “what must you do when you get thirsty?”
  • Names objects that are common
  • Much repetition of phrases, syllables, and words
  • Uses short sentences like “me want more”
  • Solves problems by talking instead of hitting or crying

3-4 Years

  • Can tell a story
  • Has a sentence length of 4-5 words
  • Has a vocabulary of nearly 1000 words
  • Names at least one color
  • Begins to obey complex requests like “put the block under the chair”

4-5 Years

  • Uses many descriptive words, both adjectives and adverbs
  • Has sentence length of 4-5 words
  • Speech is completely intelligible
  • Able to give a definition for common objects
  • Simple conception of time such as morning, afternoon and later
  • Uses past tense correctly
  • Can speak of imaginary conditions such as “I hope”
  • Asks many questions such as “who?” and “why?”

5-6 Years

  • Can make sentences with a length of 5-6 words
  • Defines objects by their use (you eat with a fork)
  • Knows simple spatial relations like “on top” or “behind”
  • Understands common opposites like big/little
  • Uses all types of sentences, like “let’s go to the store after we eat”
  • Should be able to tell a fairly long story when shown a picture and asked about it

After reading through these, it’s good to remember that all children are different and that these are just rough guidelines. Development has a fairly flexible time range of normalcy. However, if it does seem that your child has missed some or many of these milestones contacting a speech-language pathologist for a language evaluation is definitely a good course of action.

Sources for this list were obtained from the Child Development Institute and LD Online.

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"Elizabeth was an incredibly communicative and supportive therapist for our daughter. We saw impressive improvement quickly, and our 2yo often looked forward to their weekly sessions. Our daughter just graduated from speech and we're so grateful for Elizabeth's expertise, empathy, and support over the past year!"

"We had the most wonderful experience with Chicago Speech Therapy! Our speech pathologist, Miss Megan, developed a bond with our son almost immediately. By week two, he would await her arrival by the window in our front door! She quickly discovered all of his favorite things and would bring so many toys of her own that would keep him engaged and wanting to talk! She gave us (parents) tons of strategies to work with on our own in between her weekly visits. Our son made consistent progress under her care and has now been released from speech therapy ~ which actually makes us so sad ~ simply because we miss Miss Megan! She basically became part of our family and will be dearly missed. I couldn’t recommend Miss Megan and Chicago Speech Therapy more!"

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