Early Language Development: 10 Milestones To Look For

Speech language pathology can help your child!Among the most exciting milestones of your child’s development is his first words. But as exciting as this can be, it can also be a source of stress. As a speech-language pathologist, one of the most common questions I hear is, “Is my child’s language where it should be for his age?” Or if the child seems to be lagging behind his peers: “Is my child a late bloomer? Or could there be a larger problem?”

It’s difficult to know for sure; there’s no set schedule for a child to develop language, and all children develop at their own pace. However, there are some basic benchmarks that can help you tell if your child may have a language delay. Here are some of the most common milestones for early language development:

One to Two Years

  • Responds to simple commands and questions (“Wave bye bye!”; “Show me the ball”)
  • Starts to combine words in two-word phrases (e.g. “more cookie”, “Mommy play”)
  • Uses some one- or two-word questions (“Where Daddy?”, “Go bye-bye?”)
  • Begins to use pronouns, such as “mine”

Two to Three Years

  • Speech is clear enough to be understood by familiar listeners (e.g., family members) most of the time
  • Follows two-step requests (“Get your toy and put it on the floor.”)
  • Uses two- or three-word sentences to talk about and ask for things

Three to Four Years

  • Unfamiliar listeners (e.g., people outside the family) usually understand child’s speech
  • Answers simple, “who?”, “what?”, “where?”, and “why?” questions
  • Regularly uses sentences that have 4 or more words

Remember: if your child seems to be behind on some of these milestones, it does not automatically mean that they have a language delay or other problem. However, if your child seems to be consistently behind with several of these milestones, you should schedule an appointment with a speech-language pathologist to make sure there are no larger issues at play. If your child does not have any issues, the speech pathologist will be able to put your mind at ease. If they find that your child may be at risk for a speech or language disorder, getting intervention at the earliest stage can help ensure the best outcome and head off problems for your child down the road.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to jayne@speechassociatesofny.com. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.

© 2016, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved


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