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Speech & Language Checklist:

These milestones build on each other. Be sure that your child is meeting the goals in the previous age groups too.  This information is based on researched milestones and averages. A milestone means that 90% of children the same age are able to complete the goal. Average means that 50% of children are able to complete the goal.


Startles to loud sounds

☐ Quiet or smiles when spoken to

☐ Seems to recognize familiar voices and quiets if crying

☐ Increased or decreased sucking behavior in response to sound

☐ Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)

☐ Cries differently for different needs

☐ Smiles when seeing a familiar person


☐ Moves eyes in direction of sounds

☐ Responds to changes in tone of voice

☐ Notices toys that make music

☐ Pays attention to music

☐ Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds (including p, b, and m)

☐ Beginning to use intonation during vocalizations

☐ Chuckles and laughs

☐ Vocalizes excitement and displeasure

☐ Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with adults


☐ Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake 

☐ Turns and looks in the direction of sounds

☐ Listens when spoken to

☐ Recognizes words for common items like “cup”, “shoe”, “book”

☐ Begins to respond to requests (e.g. “Come here” or “Want more?”)

☐ Recognizes name

☐ Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as “tata upup bibibibi”

☐ Uses speech or non-crying sounds to get and keep attention

☐ Uses gestures to communicate (waving, holding arms to be picked up)

☐ Imitates different speech sounds

☐ Has one or two words (hi, dog, dada, mama) around first birthday, although sounds may not be clear

13-18 MONTHS

☐ Has a vocabulary of approximately 5-20 words

☐ Vocabulary is mostly nouns

☐ Some repeating of the same word or phrase repeatedly (echolalia)

☐ Uses jargon (their own language) with inflection

☐ Follows simple commands (“Roll the ball”)

☐ Points to a few body parts when asked

☐ Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes

☐ Uses different consonant sounds at the beginning of words

19-24 MONTHS

☐ Vocabulary “explosion” to 150-500 words by 24 months. Can name common environmental objects

☐ Uses more word combinations and intonation for questions

☐ Puts two or more words together (“more cookie”, “mommy book”)

☐ Approximately 50% of what the child says should be intelligible at 2 years old

☐ Rhythm, fluency, volume, and pitch are not yet well-controlled

☐ Can use at least two pronouns correctly (I, me, and you can be confused easily)

☐ “My” and “Mine” begin to emerge

☐ Responds to simple commands

☐ Is able to use prepositions (in, on, under typically first to develop.)

☐ Is using "a" and "the" in sentences at 2 years of age

25-36 MONTHS

☐ Understands difference in simple opposites (“go-stop”, “in-on”, “big-little”, “up-down”)

☐ Able to listen to longer stories and music activities, 10-15 minutes by 3 years old

☐ Follows two step directions (“Get the book and put it on the table”)

☐ By 3 years old, no longer drops the last sound in a word (do for dog, app for apple)

☐ Has words for nearly everything – Vocabulary of 900-1000 words

☐ Uses 3 or more word sentences and questions

☐ Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds in additional to other consonants and most vowels

☐ Speech is at least 50-75% intelligible to familiar listeners and strangers

☐ Asks “why” questions

☐ Uses pronouns I, you, me correctly

☐ Uses some plurals, past tenses, and verbs

☐ Knows at least 3 prepositions (in, on, under)

☐ Knows and can name most body parts

☐ Can state name and age

☐ Can play rhyming games

37-48 MONTHS

☐ Understands words for some primary colors

☐ Understands some simple shapes (circle, square)

☐ Understands words for family members

☐ Talks about activities at school or with friends

☐ Talks about daily happenings using about 4 sentences at a time

☐ Answers simple “who?”, “what?”, and “where?” questions

☐ Asks “when?” and “how?” questions

☐ Uses pronouns like I, you, me, we, and they

☐ Uses more plurals

☐ Sentences are typically more than 4 words long

☐ Make-believe and use of verbalizations during play

☐ Follows simple commands if item is out of sight

☐ Understands concepts like longer and larger, when contrast is presented


☐ Understands words for order (first, next, last, before, after)

☐ Understands words for time (today, yesterday)

☐ Follows multi-step directions (2-3 steps)

☐ Says all speech sounds in words. May have articulation errors on harder sounds

☐ Uses sentences with more than 1 verb

☐ Tells short stories and keep conversation going

☐ Changes communication based on environment/ listener (louder outside and is able to lower voice inside)

☐ Uses adjectives and adverbs

☐ Knows opposites

☐ Counts to ten or above

☐ Can repeat sentences up to nine words

☐ Can define common objects

☐ Most of speech is grammatically correct

☐ Understands how a book works


☐ Follows classroom directions in sequence

☐ Listens to and understands age-appropriate stories read aloud

☐ Follows and participates in conversations

☐ Shows interest in and starts conversations

☐ Completely intelligible, not including articulation errors

☐ Answers simple “yes/no” questions

☐ Answers open-ended questions (“What did you have for lunch today?”)

☐ Retells a story or talks about an event

☐ Identifies words that rhyme

☐ “Reads” a few picture books from memory or sight words

☐ Compare and match words based on sounds

☐ Most speech sounds should be present


☐Follows 2-3 directions in a sequence

☐ Remembers information

☐ Responds to instructions

☐ Answers more complex “yes/no” questions

☐ Tells and retells stories and events in logical order

☐ Expresses ideas with a variety of sentences

☐ Uses most parts of speech (grammar) correctly

☐ Asks and responds to “wh” questions

☐ Starts, stays on topic, and takes turns in conversations

☐ Gives directions

☐ Blends separate sounds to form words

☐ Understands what is read

☐ Expresses ideas through writing

☐ Writes a variety of stories, journal, etc.

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