Language Milestones

Hello there! Chances are if you are visiting our website, you are concerned about your child's speech and/or language. Believe it or not, there are still pediatricians out there that continue to tell worried parents to just "wait and see" if their child starts to talk. Current research on the brain tells us the OPPOSITE. Begin intervention early (if appropriate) because the brain is most malleable from birth to 3 years old. Yes-we can actually change (create new neural pathways) in our babies' brains! Review the following milestones carefully. Remember that each individual child is unique but do reach out to us if there are red flags. AKP Speech Therapy PLLC offers free phone screenings.

3-6 months

Produces vowel sounds and cooing

Social smile, giggles, shows pleasure

Enjoys interactions with caregivers

Makes eye contact with people talking to them

Takes turns vocalizing

Red Flags

Limited eye contact

No joyful interactions with caregiver

6-9 months

Beginning to understand phrases such as “want more?” & “come here”


Tries to imitate some actions and sounds

Babbles using repeated consonant-vowel syllable (mamama)

Vocalizes with eye contact to communicate

Responds to name and looks at family members when they’re named

Red Flags

No consonant sounds/ babbling

No back and forth interactions of sounds, smiles, facial expressions

9-12 months

Says first word

Babbling now consists of combining various vowels and consonants with rhythmic pattern 

Points and uses gestures more purposefully to influence the behavior of others

Imitates actions, sounds, and dancing 

Follows highly routine directions with cues

Understands 50 words and phrases including “no”


Red Flags 

No gestures

Not responding to name

No babbling

No joint attention

12-15 months

Says about 10 words 

Uses 10 or more gestures (shakes head “no,” waves, blows kiss, etc.)

Follows 1 step directions with prompts

Imitates sounds in play (animal sounds, environmental sounds)

Answers “where” questions by looking toward an object/person or pointing in book


Red Flags 

No words

Not following routine directions

Uses gestures more than verbal attempts

15-18 months

Says 15-50 single words

Follows 1-step directions without gestures

Speech is ~25% intelligible

Points to common objects, body parts, and to what he/she wants

Answers yes/ no questions verbally or with nod/shake


Red Flags 

Says fewer than 10 words

Unable to identify familiar vocabulary

Not following routine directions

18-24 months

Says 200 words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, social phrases)

Understands 300 words 


Follows 2 simple step directions

Speech is ~50% intelligible

Puts 2-3 words “more juice”

Uses words more than gestures to communicate

Verbally makes a choice when offered 2 options 


Red Flags 

Says fewer than 50 words

Does not follow 1 step directions

Not combining 2 words together

24-30 months

Says 450 words

Follows more complex commands (understands size concepts)

Speaks in 2-3 word phrases most of the time


Asks and answers who, what, and where questions


Uses verb+ing and pronouns (I, me, my, mine, it)

Red Flags 

No back and forth conversational turn-taking

Says fewer than 100 words

Does not answer who, what, where questions

Does not combine 2 words together

30-36 months

Says nearly 1000 words

Speech is 75% intelligible


Asks and answers why questions


Speaks in 4-5 word sentences 


Talks about events/objects not present 


Uses more pronouns (he, she, we)


Red Flags 

Says fewer than 200 words

Not following 1-2 step commands

Does not speak in short phrases