• Communication Development

    0-3 months

    startled by loud noise

    undifferentiated cry (0-1 month)

    turns head toward speaker

    produces throaty sounds and vowels

    differentiated cry for pain, hunger, tired


    3-6 months

    looks directly at speaker

    vocalizes in response to speaker

    vocalizes pleasure and pain

    initiated vocal play:  coos, chuckles, gurgles, and laughs

    pitch and intonation vary


    6-9 months

    imitates familiar sounds

    comprehends parental gestures

    looks at objects, family members and pictures when named

    stops behavior when told “no”                        

    babbles /m/, /n/, /t/, /d/, /b/, /p/, /z/

    vocalizes to another person

    vocalizes differently for hunger, anger, contentment   


    9-12 months

    begins to relate names and objects

    gives objects on request

    claps hands and waves on command

    articulates most speech sounds

    gestures/vocalizes wants and needs

    directs others physically: pats, pulls, pushes, tugs


    12-18 months

    points to 1-3 body parts when asked

    points to objects when named

    responds vocally to “wh” questions

    acknowledges others speech by eye contact, speech, or repetition of the word said

    uses sentence-like intonation (jargon)

    imitates some words

    uses single words: says 3-20 words

    protests by saying “no”, shaking head, moving away or frowning

    uses ritual words “hi” or “bye”

    points to wanted object                                 

    says “all gone” and asks for “more”

    teases, scolds, warns using gestures and vocalizations


    18-24 months

    understands approximately 300 words

    responds to the directions “in” and “on”

    listens as pictures are named word said

    points to 5 body parts

    responds to yes/no questions by shaking or nodding head

    produces words with consonant/ vowel/consonant

    says 50 words

    combines words to make 2 word phrases

    mean sentence length 1.8  words

    names familiar objects and vocalizations

    uses commands (e.g. more), possessives (e.g. mine),  reactions (e.g. owee)


    24-30 months

    understands approximately 500 words

    follows simple directions (“sit here, “bring it to me”

    follows a series of two related commands (“Pick up the ball and give it to me”)

    may omit some final consonants or substitute one consonant for another

    says 200 words

    mean sentence length – 3.1 words

    answers “what” & “where” questions (“What do you hear with?”)

    uses some regular plurals

    asks basic questions ( “Daddy gone?”)


    30-36 months

    understands approximately 900 words

    points to pictures of common objects described by their use (“Show me what you eat with”)

    knows ”big/little”

    knows third person pronouns (he, she

    articulates /p/, /m/, /n/,/w/,/h/

    says 500 words

    mean sentence length 3.4 words

    asks simple “what” & “where” questions

    refers to self by own name

    uses pronouns  (I, me, my, mine)


    36-42 months

    understands approximately 1200 words

    responds to two unrelated commands (“Put your cup on the table and turn on the TV.”)

    knows “in front of” and “behind”

    uses final consonants most of the time

    says 800 words

    mean sentence length = 4.3 words

    uses regular past tense forms

    beginning of questions – asking stage using “what”, “who”, “why”, and “how” many”


    42-48 months

    understands 1500-2000 words

    tells how common objects are used                

    mean sentence length = 4.4 words                    

    responds to three commands (”Pick up the spoon, put it in the cup, and bring it to me)

    articulates /b/, /d/, /k/, /g/, /f/,

    says 1000 words

    does simple verbal analogies (Daddy is a man, mommy is a _________.)


    48-54 months

    understands 2000-2500 words

    knows “between”, “above”, “below”, “top” & “bottom”

    few consonant omissions or substitutions

    says 1500 words

    mean sentence length = 4.6 words

    uses possessives consistently (boy’s, cat’s)

    uses irregular plurals consistently (child/children)


    54-60 months

    understands 2500-2800 words

    knows “heavy/light”, “loud/soft”, “like/unlike”, “long/short”

    misarticulates a few difficult blends

    says 2000 words

    mean sentence length = 5.7 words

    generates complex sentences (We went to the store and bought milk.)

    uses contractions (I’ll, can’t)

    tells familiar stories without picture cues


    60-72 months

    understands 13,000 words

    understands “yesterday/tomorrow”, “more/less”, some/many”, "now/later”,“several/few”, “most/least”, “before/after”

    articulates /th/,/ing/,/r/, /l/

    mean sentence length = 6.6 words

    understands the opposite of (the opposite of hot is _________.)

    states similarities and differences between objects

    uses superlative “est” (biggest, tallest)

    uses all pronouns consistently


    72-84 months

    understands 20,000-26,000 words

    is aware of mistakes in other people’s speech

    understands roughly the difference in time intervals

    understands the seasons of the year and what you do in each.

    articulates voiceless /th/, /sh/, /ch/, /j/

    mean sentence length = 7.3 words

    uses mild slang and mild profanity

    uses irregular comparatives correctly (good, better, best)

    uses passive voice