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General Health


Toddlers & Children




Milestones In Speech

One of the greatest joys of parenthood is when I your child says their first word. It is the beginning of their journey of experimentation with sounds, words and sentences. This can also be a time of anxiety for some parents and grandparents. It can often result from comments such as "Isn't he talking yet?" or "I can't understand him and his cousin who's the same age, speaks quite clearly."

It is important to remember that children develop speech and language at different rates. Milestones provide both a guide and a means to encourage your child. Any concerns parents have with regard to their child's speech can be discussed with the Child Health Nurse or a Speech Pathologist.


Milestones 0 - 6 months

Receptive Skills-Communication

  • Responds to sound and voice
  • Turns head in direction of voice
  • Smiles when spoken to
  • Laughs in response to a happy voice

Expressive Skills- Speech

  • Repeats some sounds said to them
  • Cries to express pain, hunger or discomfort
  • Begins to babble using sounds such as ma ma, da da


Milestones 6 - 12 months

Receptive Skills-Communication

  • Understands and responds to own name
  • Understands 'no' and safety sounds such as 'hot'
  • Shakes head and understands 'yes' and 'no' though not always reliably.
  • Follows simple instructions

Expressive Skills-Speech

  • Initiates lots of sounds
  • babbles using longer groups of sounds
  • Copies adult speech by varying pitch.
  • 1st words appear
  • Names familiar objects


Milestones 18 months - 2 years

Receptive Skills-Communication

  • Understands about 300words
  • Identifies 5 body parts
  • Enjoys listening to stories
  • Follows 2 part instructions e.g. put your cup on the table

Expressive Skills-Speech

  • Jargons i.e. strings sounds together with adult inflection
  • Vocab 50-100 words or more. Not always understood by strangers.
  • Begins to combine nouns and verbs e.g. Car going Mum work.


Milestones 2 - 3 years

Receptive Skills-Communication

  • Understands action words e.g. run, jump, eat
  • Points to pictures in book when named
  • Understands most things said to them
  • Has a receptive vocab of 500-900 words.

Expressive Skills-Speech

  • Speech is mostly intelligible
  • Says full name and asks many questions
  • Vocab increases to 50-250 words
  • Grammatical errors occur frequently
  • Knows some nursery rhymes


Milestones 3 - 4 years

Receptive Skills-Communication

  • Understands plurals, different pronouns e.g. his/her, adjectives (hot/cold)
  • Listening skills improve and begins to 'really' understand what is being said.
  • Understands use of objects e.g. knife for cutting
  • Answers more complex question

Expressive Skills-Speech

  • Sentences continue to improve although some errors still exist.
  • Speech improves but some problems with sounds e.g. sh / ch / s