Language Development Norms: Key to Enhanced Communication

  • Convey and Comprehend Sentiments
  • Learn Spoken Language and Expressive Vocabulary
  • Develop and Maintain Relationships
lang deve
lang dev

Language development is an indication of healthy brain growth and maturity. From birth until age five, children develop speech and language quickly but it becomes difficult after age five. While the stages of linguistic development are not mandatorily correlated to age, they reflect a pattern in the way language is acquired.  Let’s take a look at the ages when hearing, understanding and talking should happen:

Hearing and Understanding Hearing and Understanding Talking
Birth - 3 Months
  • Startles to loud sounds
  • Quiets or smiles when spoken to
  • Seems to recognize the caregiver's voice and quiets if crying.
  • Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound
  • Makes pleasure sounds (cooing)
  • Cries differently for different needs 
  • Smiles when seeing primary caregiver(s).
4-6 Months
  • Moves eyes in direction of sounds
  • Responds to changes in the tone of a caregiver’s voice
  • Notices toys that make sounds
  • Pays attention to music
  • Babbling sounds more speech-like
    Chuckles and laughs
  • Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
  • Makes gurgling sound when left alone and while playing with a caregiver.  
7 Months - 12 Months
  • Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
  • Turns and looks in direction of sounds
  • Listens when spoken to
  • Recognizes words for common items like “cup”, shoe”, “book”, “juice”
  • Begins to respond to requests (i.e., “come here” or “want more?”
  • Answers simple questions nonverbally
  • Says 2-3 words to label a person or object
  • Tries to imitate simple words
  • Builds a vocabulary of 50 words
  • Makes animal sounds (moo)
  • Starts to combine words (more milk)
  • Begins using pronouns (mine)
  • Uses 2-word phrases
1-2 Years
  • Points to a few body parts when asked
  • Follows simple commands and understands simple questions (roll the ball, kiss the baby, where’s your shoe)
  • Listens to simple stories, songs and rhymes 
  • Points to pictures in a book when named 
  • Answers simple questions nonverbally
  • Says 2-3 words to label a person or object
  • Tries to imitate simple words
  • Builds a vocabulary of 50 words
  • Makes animal sounds, such as "moo"
  • Starts to combin
  • Begins using pronouns, such as "mine"
  • Uses 2-word phrases
2-3 Years
  • Understands differences in meanings (go-stop, in-on, big-little, up-down)
  • Follows 2 requests (Get the book and put it on the table)
  • Listens to and enjoys hearing stories for longer periods of time
  • Has a word for almost everything
  • Uses 2- to 3-word sentences to comment and request
  • Uses k, g, f, t, d and n sounds 
  • Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time
    Often asks for or directs attention to object by naming them 
3-4 Years 
  • Hears when someone calls them from another room.
  • Answers simple “who”, “what”, “where” and “why” questions.
  • Talks about activities at school or at a friend’s homes
  • People outside family members usually understand child’s speech.
  • Uses a lot of sentences that have 4+ words
  • Usually talks easily without repeating syllable or words
4-5 Years 
  • Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about them.
  • Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school
  • Uses sentences that give lots of details (“The biggest peach of mine”).
  • Tells stories that stick to topic.
  • Communicates easily with other children and adults.
  • Says most sounds correctly with the exception of l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, th
  • Says rhyming words.



  • Names some letters and numbers.
  • Uses the same grammar as the rest of the family

Download this list of phonological processes and development timeframes

How Do We Treat Articulation and Phonological Patterns?

We at PASTS provide language therapy to clients of all ages. Our goal is to increase an individual’s understanding and use of speech and language. Individual and group programs are available to work on:

Contact us today for more information about you or your child’s speech, language, feeding, and myofunctional needs.
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