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speech & language milestones

Below are some general guidelines on children's typical speech-language developmental milestones. Do keep in mind that no two children develops at the same pace!

Some children may be slower than others in acquiring a certain skill, but there are certain milestones which should be acquired by a specific age.


When a child do not eventually catch up, this becomes a cause for concern.

Below 1 year

  • Coo, babble, jargon (unintelligible string of adult-like speech)

  • Uses gestures to communicate (waving, pointing)

  • Responds to name when called

  • Understands names for common items ('ball', 'milk', 'shoe')

  • Imitates different sounds/words


1-2 years

  • Follows simple instructions

  • Identifies few body parts 

  • Uses single words consistently

  • Starts using few 2-word phrases ('no milk', 'mommy go')

  • Asks simple questions ('What's that?')

2-3 years

  • Follows 2-step instructions ('Take the book and give to daddy')

  • Comprehends big/small concepts  

  • Uses 2- to 3-word utterances ('Daddy shoe blue')

  • Understands simple questions

3-4 years

  • Identifies colours

  • Uses 4- to 5-word utterances

  • Answers 'where' questions

  • Speech is easily understood by unfamiliar listeners


4 years & above

  • Follows longer/complex instructions

  • Tells a simple story

  • Uses conjunctions ('and', 'but', 'so') to connect phrases/sentences

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