Developmental Milestones


How Well are they Communicating?

A Quick Reference Guide for Speech and Language Development

If you are concerned about a child’s development based on this information, a referral can be made to the Niagara Children's Centre for a speech and language screening. Refer a child now.

  • use jargon (babbling that sounds like real speech)
  • begin to imitate some new words
  • may have first words (2-5 words)
  • enjoy interacting with others and have a desire to communicate
  • understand simple instructions/words (e.g., Stand up, don’t touch, sit down)
  • give a toy on request
  • understand own name
  • use 10-20 words consistently
  • words may not always be clearly pronounced
  • words may be accompanied by gestures
  • make at least 4 different consonant sounds (e.g., p, b, m, n, d, t, w, h)
  • enjoy being read to and looking at simple books with an adult
  • understand simple directions (e.g.,“where’s your...” or “show me the...”)
  • learn new words weekly
  • use 50-150 words
  • combine 2 words (e.g., “more juice”, “hi daddy”)
  • understand at least 300 words
  • respond appropriately to yes/no questions
  • hold books the right way up and turn the pages
  • use about 250-350 words
  • be understood by at least some familiar adults, other people may have a hard time understanding them at times
  • understand about 500 words
  • follow simple two-step commands (e.g. “get your coat and wait at the door”)
  • be able to answer simple “who?” and “what’s that?” questions
  • understand position words such as in, on, under, up & down
  • use about 1000 words
  • talk in short sentences (3-5 words), that are not always grammatically correct (e.g.,“I eated it”)
  • use plurals (s), “ing” endings, prepositions on, in, under, negative: won’t
  • put end sounds on the end of words (e.g., dad)
  • be understood 90% of the time
  • follow two step commands (e.g., “take off your shoes and put them in the closet”)
  • answer “where?” & “what’s he doing?”
  • be improving grammar to include: personal pronouns (e.g., I, you, my), plurals, early negatives (e.g., don’t, can’t, won’t)
  • pronounce f, k, g, s accurately in words
  • by 3 years 9 months grammar continues to improve to include: is/are; he, she they; and possession (e.g., boy’s)
  • have a vocabulary of at least 2000 words
  • begin to use longer sentences (4 or more words) that include “adult-like” grammar (e.g. “he isn’t there”)
  • be able to re–tell recent events with logical sequence
  • be able to answer more complex questions (e.g., “what do you think will happen next?”)
  • pronounce l, sh, s–blends accurately in words
  • follow 3-step commands (e.g., “get your boots, put them on, and go outside”)
  • follow instructions without the object being present
  • be able to listen to stories for at least 15 minutes and remember details
  • enjoy simple, silly jokes
  • use sentences that sound almost like an adult
  • be able to participate in a conversation
  • be able to use all sounds with the exception of “th” and “r”
  • understand long verbal directions (e.g., “when grandpa arrives, tell him I’m outside and help him with his suitcase”)
  • point to basic colours
  • enjoy jokes and riddles
  • love to listen to stories, may act them out
  • understand many descriptive words (e.g., soft, hard, tallest, shortest, long, short, top, bottom)
  • use grammatically correct sentences
  • use a full range of sounds accurately