Language Development

0 to 3 MONTHS

What They Hear and Understand

  • Startles or cries at sudden sounds
  • Awakens to loud noises
  • Appears to respond to speaker

What They Can Say

  • Cries when uncomfortable
  • Coos and gurgles when content

3 to 6 MONTHS

What They Hear and Understand

  • Turns her head to sounds
  • Disturbed by angry voices
  • Stops crying with soothing words or a familiar voice
  • Interrupts activity to listen

What They Can Say

  • Plays with making sounds
  • Has special cry for hunger
  • Laughs when played with
  • Babbles by repeating series of same sound “ma-ma-ma-ma”

6 to 10 MONTHS

What They Hear and Understand

  • Looks for source of sounds or music
  • Responds to “no” and her name
  • Distinguishes happy or angry voices
  • Appears to recognize a few words (bye-bye, mama, up, no, ball)

What They Can Say

  • Babbles in response to speaker
  • Appears to be imitating
  • Develops sentence like rhythms
  • May attempt to sing along
  • Uses gestures and facial expressions with speech sounds

10 To 12 MONTHS

What They Hear and Understand

  • Turns or looks up when called
  • Uses hand and body movements in rhythm to music
  • Listens to and responds to stories
  • Shows interest in new words

What They Can Say

  • First words may be heard
  • Uses speech and gestures games (pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo)
  • Tries to imitate spoken requests
  • “Talks” to toys and people in long patterns

12 To 20 MONTHS

What They Hear and Understand

  • Recognizes names of parts of her body, clothing, toys
  • Looks or points to pictures named in books
  • May follow two instructions

What They Can Say

  • Uses true words, gestures and jargon
  • Asks or repeats questions
  • Vocabulary may grow from 2 to 20 words
  • Imitates the sounds of toys, motors, animals

2 To 3 YEARS

What They Hear and Understand

  • Understands new words daily
  • Distinguishes different sounds (knock at door, dog barking, telephone ringing)
  • Hears television at the same sound level as the group does
  • Comes or hides when you call from another room

What They Can Say

  • Begins combining words to form short sentences
  • Asks for “food,” “toilet,” “outside,” etc.
  • Uses some pronouns, “me”
  • Tells immediate experiences with words and jargon

CAUTION

Before children produce their own speech they must be able to hear and understand what other people are saying. If you have to repeat phrases frequently or talk loudly to a particular child, let the parents know. Urge them to seek professional help if you are concerned about the hearing or speech problem. Don’t wait for someone else to spot the problem. Your sensitivity as a provider can be valuable for an early referral if necessary. Professional help is available and effective at an early age.