Hearing, Speech and Language Milestones

Hearing is vital to your child’s development. It affects how your child speaks, learns, and communicates. Below are common speech and hearing milestones for children. When comparing your child’s development to the milestones, keep in mind that each child develops at a different rate. And trust your instincts when it comes to your child. If you suspect a problem or are concerned, talk to your child’s healthcare provider.



   Signs of normal hearing

Birth to 3 Months

  • Reacts to familiar sounds or voices. For example, calms down when hearing parent’s voice.

  • Reacts to sudden loud sounds. May blink, startle, or cry.

  • Makes vocal sounds, such as cooing and gurgling.

3 Months to 6 Months

  • Looks in the direction of a sound to see where it’s coming from.

  • Vocalizes in response to familiar sounds.

  • Makes simple speech sounds, such as “ga” and “ba.”

  • Reacts to tone of voice by smiling, cooing, or crying at harsh words.

6 months to 9 months

  • Babbles, making repetitive sounds, such as “mama” and “baba.”

  • Understands simple words, such as “no” and “bye-bye.”

  • Looks in the direction of sounds.

  • Pays attention to singing or toys that make noise.

9 months to 12 months

  • Responds to soft sounds as well as loud ones.

  • Imitates animal sounds and different speech sounds.

  • Recognizes the names of common objects, such as "cup," "juice," or "shoe."

  • Searches for the sources of soft and loud sounds.

12 months to 18 months

  • Uses first words around 12 months.

  • Follows simple directions and commands, such as “Kiss the baby.”

  • By 18 months, uses about 15 words to 20 words and understands about 50 words.

18 months to 24 months

  • Combines words into short phrases such as “more cookie” or “want milk.”

  • Listens to simple stories and songs.

  • Begins using pronouns, such as “me” and “mine.”

2 years to 3 years

  • Uses 2-word to 3-word sentences.

  • Follows 2-part directions, such as “Go get your shoes and put them on.”

  • Can name many common objects.

  • Speech is mostly understood by people who spend significant time with your child.