Communication Milestones

By 12 months children can usually ….

  •     Understand about 10 words
  •     Respond to their name
  •     Recognise greeting and gestures, such as ‘hi’ and ‘bye-bye’
  •     Recognise a few familiar people and objects ( e.g., mummy, blankie, teddy)
  •     Make eye contact
  •     Start to use sounds , gestures, and say a few words
  •     Continue to babble
  •     Copy different sounds and noises

At 18 months children can usually…

  •     Understand up to 50 words, some short phrases
  •     Follow simple instructions ( e.g., ‘throw the ball’)
  •     Point to familiar objects when named. Point to some pictures in familiar books
  •     Say 6 to 20 single words – some easier to understand than others, but becoming more consistent
  •     Copy lots of words and noises
  •     Name a few body parts
  •     Use objects in pretended play (e.g., hold toy phone to their ear and say ‘hello’)

At 2 years children can usually…

  •     Follow simple two part instructions (e.g., ‘give me the ball and the car’)
  •     Respond to simple wh-questions, such as ‘what’ and ‘where’
  •     Point to several body parts and pictures in books when named
  •     Understand when an object is ‘in’ and ‘on’ something
  •     Say more than 50 single words
  •     Put two words together (e.g., ‘bye teddy’, ‘no ball’)
  •     Use their tone of voice to ask a question (e.g., ‘teddy go?’)
  •     Say ‘no’ when they do not want something
  •     Use most vowel sounds and a variety of consonants (m, n, p, b, k, g, h, w, t. d)
  •     Start to use ‘mine’ and ‘my’

At 3 years children can usually …..

  •     Follow more complex two part instructions (e.g., give me the teddy and throw the ball)
  •     Understand simple wh-questions, such as ‘what’ and ‘who’
  •     Understand the concept of ‘same’ and ‘different’
  •     Sort items into groups when asked (e.g., toys vs food)
  •     Recognize some basic colors
  •     Say four to five words in a sentence
  •     Use a variety of words for names, actions, locations and descriptions
  •     Ask questions using ‘what’ and ‘who’
  •     Talk about something in the past, but may use ‘-ed’ a lot (e.g., ‘he goed there’)
  •     Have a conversation but may not turns or stay on topic

At 4 years children can usually …..

  •     Answer most questions about daily tasks
  •     Understand most wh-questions, including those about a story they have recently heard
  •     Understand some numbers
  •     Use words, such as ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘because’, to make longer sentences
  •     Describe recent events, such as morning routines
  •     Ask lots of questions
  •     Use personal pronouns (e.g., he/she, me/you) 
  •     Count to five and name a few colors


At 5 years children can usually …..


  •     Follow three part instructions (e.g., put on your shoes, get your backpack and line up outside)
  •     Understand time related words (e.g., ‘before’, ‘after’, ‘now’ and ‘later’)
  •     Start thinking about the meaning of words when learning
  •     Understand instructions without stopping to listen
  •     Being to recognize some letters, sounds and numbers
  •     Use well-formed sentences to be understood by most people
  •     Take turns in increasingly longer conversations
  •     Tell simple, short stories with beginning, middle and end
  •     Use past and future verbs correctly (e.g., ‘went’, ‘will go’)
  •     Use most speech sounds, but still may have difficulties with ‘s’, ‘r’, ‘l’ and ‘th’