Is My Child on Track? 10 Communication Milestones to Look for

happy baby boy, studio photo sessionWatching your child grow and learn to communicate with the world around them is one of the greatest joys as a parent. But what do you do if you think your child is lagging behind? Last week, we talked about how a speech-language pathologist can help if you suspect your child is delayed in developing language. Today, we talk about a few specific milestones to look out for to help determine if your child is a late bloomer, or a risk for a communication disorder.

First, a caveat: all children develop at their own pace and lagging behind on achieving milestones doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem. I always like to remind my clients that I didn’t talk until I was almost three years old! While many people were concerned that there was a problem, I eventually began talking when I was ready and had no lingering communication issues. However, a delay can also be indicative of an underlying language or communication disorder, so if your child is missing milestones, it’s important to see a speech-language pathologist for a full evaluation to rule out any larger issues. 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 milk”, “Daddy play”)
  • Uses some one- or two-word questions (“Where puppy?”, “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 cup and put it on the table.”)
  • 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

A delayed milestone or two may turn out be nothing, but it’s always better to play it safe and get an evaluation from a speech-language pathologist. If there is an underlying issue, getting the appropriate therapy early can go a long way towards minimizing future challenges.

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

© 2017, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved




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