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Language Development Milestones: How Speech Therapy Can Help

One of the most common questions that speech and language pathologists hear from concerned parents is, “How many words should my child be using at this age?” As our children grow and develop, there are particular communication milestones that parents and caregivers can watch for. These important communication milestones help us know how each child is developing. Below, we go over the specific speech and language milestones expected for each age.

When discussing milestones and development in children, it is always important to note that all children develop skills at different paces and in varying orders. If a child hasn’t met one of the milestones by that particular age, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the child has a speech or language delay.

If, however, you are concerned about the development of your child’s communication skills, it is important to seek the help and support of a speech and language pathologist as soon as possible. Get your child started with speech therapy by scheduling your free introductory call today!

Communication Milestones by Age

Here are the general speech and language milestones that children who are developing normally should have mastered by each age:

Age 3-6 Months

Smiles spontaneously at human interaction
Smiles during independent play
Smiles at familiar family members
Stops crying when sung or spoken to
Displays a variety of responses to familiar family members

Age 6-9 Months

Responds to their name
Displays more outgoing behavior with familiar people
Appears anxious when separated from a favorite family member or caregiver
Favors specific people over others

9-12 Months

Reacts to the moods of others
Is apprehensive or fearful of strangers
Tolerates brief moments of loss of contact with caregiver in unfamiliar situations
Shows off for attention from familiar adults

12-18 Months

Uses an expressive vocabulary of 5-20 words
Understand the value of communication
Can follow simple directions, especially when accompanied by a gesture
Will practice intonation, may imitate an adult
Mostly uses nouns with a handful of others, such as down or up
Can use meaningful jargon with emotion and inflection

19-24 Months

Can name common objects
Will use two or three prepositions such as on, in, or under
Consistently uses noun + verb
Familiar adults can understand about 2/3 of what the child says
Has a receptive and expressive vocabulary of approximately 150-300 words
Fluency and rhythm of speech are underdeveloped
Control of volume and pitch is underdeveloped
The concepts of me, my, and mine are emerging (often with a vengeance!)
Follow simple commands such as “Point to your nose!”

2-3 Years

Correctly uses I, me, and you
Can use some past tenses and plurals
Knows the words for primary body parts
Can use three-word sentences
Has a vocabulary of about 900 words
Family members can understand about 90% of what the child says
Verbs begin to emerge quickly
Can understand and respond to questions involving their immediate environment
Will share information about their experiences
Can answer questions about needs and wants, for example: What do you want when you’re hungry?
Will provide their name, age, and gender
Is able to understand much more than they express

4 Years

Knows the names of animals
Can use at least four prepositions
Can identify some or all colors
Can repeat up to four digits when given slowly
Can repeat a four-syllable word
Understands the concept of contrast such as bigger and longer
Can follow simple directions
Will repeat many sounds, syllables, words, and phrases
Loves imaginative play and will take on several roles during play
Talks extensively while playing independently or with others

5 Years

Will use adverbs and adjectives extensively in conversation
Understands opposites such as open-shut, big-small, soft-hard, and heavy-light
Can count to ten
All speech is mostly intelligible; however, articulation errors often persist
Can repeat sentences with as many as nine words
Can provide definitions of common words
Can independently follow three-step instructions
Can understand basic time concepts, such as later, morning, and tomorrow
Verbal language is predominantly correct
Will use long sentences that include some complex and compound constructions

What are Common Language Disorders in Children?

Speech Language Pathologists help children with challenges relating to speech and language. A speech disorder involves a problem with sound production, whereas a language disorder involves difficulties in understanding language and/or expressing thoughts and ideas through language.

Common Language Disorders in Children

Receptive Language Disorders: difficulty understanding spoken language

Expressive Language Disorders: difficulty effectively expressing oneself through speech. A child with an expressive language disorder’s vocabulary may be limited, they may struggle to put words together or may be unable to use language appropriately.

Cognitive-Communication Disorders: challenges relating to memory, perception, attention, organization, and problem-solving that affect communication skills.

If you are concerned about the development of your child’s language skills, don’t hesitate to seek the support of a speech therapist. Getting started is as easy as scheduling your free introductory call today!

Why do we Need Speech for Language Development?

Speech, language, and communication are vital parts of a child’s development. They play a critical role at any age as they help us to make sense of what is going on around us, express our basic needs and feelings, participate in conversations, think and learn, develop and sustain relationships, solve problems, and more.

Speech and language skills are closely intertwined, and in order to develop strong language skills, the child must first have a good understanding of speech sounds, syllables, and words. One of these skill sets cannot properly develop without the other.

How does a Speech and Language Therapist Help a Child?

Speech therapists are experts when it comes to working with children on their speech and language development. Every speech therapy journey begins with a thorough evaluation of the child’s current abilities and challenges, and then a unique treatment plan is developed to work with the child to meet their communication goals.

Speech therapy for children can include a wide variety of techniques and approaches, and there is no one-size-fits-all in speech therapy.

What are the Benefits of Including Speech and Language Development Activities?

There are so many benefits of including speech and language development activities both at home and during speech therapy appointments, including:

Increased vocabulary
Improved clarity and fluency of speech
Increased confidence and self-esteem
Improved social skills
Increased phonological awareness
Increased probability of academic success

These are just a few of the many benefits of speech therapy and speech and language development activities. If you would like to learn more about speech therapy for children or want to get your child started with one of our amazing SLPs, connect with us by scheduling your free introductory call today!