Normal Pattern of Speech Development

Language Development

The following are age related milestones in normal speech development that can provide a basis for monitoring language development.
Age Activities
1-6 months Coos in response to voice*
6-9 months Babbling*
10-11 months Imitation of sounds; says "mama/dada" without meaning
12 months Says "mama/dada" with meaning; often imitates two- and three-syllable words
13-15 months Vocabulary of four to seven words in addition to jargon; <20% of speech understood by strangers
16-18 months Vocabulary of 10 words; some echolalia and extensive jargon; 20 to 25% of speech understood by strangers
19-21 months Vocabulary of 20 words; 50% of speech understood by strangers
22-24 months Vocabulary >50 words; two-word phrases; dropping out of jargon; 60 to 70% of speech understood by strangers
2-2.5 years Vocabulary of 400 words, including names; two- to three-word phrases; use of pronouns, diminishing echolalia; 75% of speech understood by strangers
2.5 to 3 years Use of plurals and past tense; knows age and sex; counts three objects correctly; three to five words per sentence; 80 to 90% of speech understood by strangers
3 to 4 years Three to six words per sentence; asks questions, converses, related experiences, tells stories; almost all speech understood by strangers
4 to 5 years Six to eight words per sentence; names four colors; counts 10 pennies correctly
* Note that infants who are deaf may coo and babble, so the presence of these behaviors does not rule out hearing loss. [Schwartz: 1997]

Authors & Reviewers

Initial Publication: September 2008; Last Update: June 2011
Current Authors and Reviewers (click on name for bio):
Author: Lynne M. Kerr, MD, PhD

Page Bibliography

Schwartz, ER ed.
Pediatric Primary Care: A Problem-Oriented Approach.
St. Louis: Mosby; 1997. 0815180543
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA. Extensive reference for practitioners in office-based pediatric care. Previous edition: c1990. Softcover. DNLM: Pediatrics.