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Speech and Language Development Norms

As parents and caregivers, it's natural to wonder whether your child is developing communication skills at an appropriate pace. It's important to remember that development can vary widely among children, and what is typical for one child may differ for another. However, understanding general milestones can help you identify areas where your child might need support.

Age 1: Early Communication

- Speech Sounds: By their first birthday, children typically start using a variety of sounds such as babbling (e.g., "baba," "dada," "mama").

- Receptive Language: They understand simple instructions and recognize familiar words, such as their name and basic commands like "no" and "bye-bye."

- Expressive Language: Around 12 months, children usually say their first words, with the average being 2-6 words at 1 year of age. 

Age 2: Expanding Vocabulary

- Speech Sounds: They start to use more consonant sounds, although speech may still be unclear. Children will produce approximations of words, such as “bada” for “bottle”.

- Receptive Language: They understand simple questions, follow one-step directions, such as "Hug the teddy", and are beginning to follow some two-step commands such as "get the cup and put it in the sink". They can identify basic body parts. 

- Expressive Language: By age 2, children have an average of 200-300 words expressively.  They begin to combine two words to form simple sentences (e.g., "more milk," "hi doggie"). Between 2 and 3, children begin using Noun+Verb-ing (dog sleeping), begin to use prepositions in/on/under, and learn to use possessive nouns (mommy's shoe). 

Age 3: Building Sentences

- Speech Sounds: Articulation skills are beginning to develop but your child may not be fully understood by strangers. They can produce the following speech sounds: b, p, d, k, g, m, n, ng, f, h, y, w

- Expressive Language: Three-year-olds often use three to four-word sentences and their speech is about 75% intelligible to strangers. Their vocabulary expands to an average of 1,000 words and they can say their name when asked. They are developing more grammar including past tense -ed (played), and use some plurals (toys). 

- Receptive Language: They can follow two-step directions and understand prepositions "in", "off", "on", "under", "out of", "together", and "away from".   They understand and answer basic who and where questions. 

Age 4: Improved Clarity and Grammar

- Speech Sounds: Speech is usually clear and understandable to strangers. They can now produce the following speech sounds: v, s, z, sh, ch, j, l 

- Expressive Language: By age 4, children typically speak in complete sentences and use correct grammar most of the time. They can tell you a short story from a book or tv show and understand more location words like "next to", "beside", and "between". 

- Receptive Language: They can follow multi-step directions and understand more complex concepts, such as "bigger" and "shorter". By age 4, children understand and answer complex questions including "who", "why", "where", and "how". 

Age 5: Complex Sentences and Storytelling

- Speech Sounds: Produces most consonants correctly, and speech is understandable in conversation. 

- Expressive Language: Five-year-old's use complex sentences and can tell simple stories They use correct grammar and tenses most of the time and can use complex language concepts such as "yesterday", "tomorrow", "between", "beside", etc.

- Receptive Language: They understand more detailed instructions and can answer questions about a story.

Age 6: Refining Skills

- Speech Sounds: By age 6, children can typically produce all speech sounds correctly, including "th" and "r". 

- Expressive Language: Their sentences become more complex and they use language to express thoughts and ideas clearly. They engage in longer conversations and understand social nuances in communication.

- Receptive Language: Children are able to follow multi-step commands in the classroom. 

If you notice that your child is not meeting these developmental milestones, it might be helpful to consult with a speech-language pathologist. We provide skilled speech therapy services in Bellaire and Galveston in office, via teletherapy, and at some daycares/schools. Early intervention can make a significant difference in your child's communication skills and we are here to help guide you!


Please reach out to us for a free consultation or to schedule an evaluation. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to supporting your child's speech and language development. We're here to help your child communicate with confidence! 

Articulation Norms


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