Development Milestones - Hearing, Speech and Language

Unless your baby has a hearing impairment, he/she can hear even before birth. Children learn to talk by imitating the sounds around them and the voices of their parents and caregivers. But that’s not true for all children. Two or three out of every 1,000 children are born deaf or hard-of-hearing and more lose their hearing later during childhood.

You know your child better than anyone: you are with your child the most and will likely be the first to notice his or her developmental milestones. There are several signs that may indicate your child has a hearing loss. If your baby or child does not appear to have reached one or more of these developmental milestones at the age indicated, talk to your family doctor about having his or her hearing tested.

0-1 Month Old

  • Hearing is fully mature
  • Recognizes some sounds
  • May turn toward familiar sounds and voices
  • Startles or jumps when there are loud sounds
  • Stops sucking or crying when there is a new sound


1-3 Month Old

  • Smiles at the sound of your voice
  • Begins to babble
  • Begins to imitate some sounds
  • Turns head toward direction of sound


3-7 Month Old

  • Responds to own name
  • Begins to respond to “no”
  • Distinguishes emotions by tone of voice
  • Responds to sound by making sounds
  • Uses voice to express joy and displeasure
  • Babbles chains of consonants
  • Turns head toward a sound source


7-12 Month Old

  • Pays increasing attention to speech
  • Responds to simple verbal requests
  • Responds to “no”
  • Uses simple gestures, such as shaking head for “no”
  • Babbles with inflection
  • Babbles chains of consonants
  • Says “dada” and “mama”
  • Uses exclamations, such as “Oh-oh!”
  • Tries to imitate words


1-2 Years Old

  • Points to object or picture when it’s named for him
  • Recognizes names of familiar people, objects and body parts
  • Says several single words (by 15 to 18 months)
  • Uses simple gestures, such as shaking head for “no”
  • Uses simple phrases (by 18 to 24 months)
  • Uses two- to four-word sentences
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Repeats words overheard in conversation


2-3 Years Old

  • Follows a two- or three-component command
  • Recognizes and identifies almost all common objects and pictures
  • Understands most sentences
  • Understands physical relationships (“on,” “in,” “under”)
  • Uses four- and five-word sentences
  • Can say name, age and sex
  • Uses pronouns (I, you, me, we, they) and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats)
  • Strangers can understand most of her words


3-4 Years Old

  • Understands the concepts of “same” and “different”
  • Has mastered some basic rules of grammar
  • Speaks in sentences of five to six words
  • Speaks clearly enough for strangers to understand
  • Tells stories


4-5 Years Old

  • Recalls part of a story
  • Speaks sentences of more than five words
  • Uses future tense
  • Tells longer stories
  • Says name and address