North West Speech Pathology


The following provides a quick guide to the ages at which most Australian children will reach their speech and language developmental milestones. It does not cover all the skills that will develop, and it must be remembered that as children develop at their own pace, not all of them will achieve the skills shown at the ages indicated.

SOUND DEVELOPMENT Based on Chirlian, 1982
  • 2 years: m, n, h
  • 2½ years: p, b, ng (as in sing), w, d, g
  • 3 years: sh, k, f, y
  • 3½ years: t, ch, j
  • 4 years: l, zh (as in treasure), s
  • 5 years: z, r
  • 7 years: th, TH
  • 8 years: v, blends (e.g. spoon, truck)

0-3 months

  • crying
  • gurgling sounds
  • eye contact
  • early turn-taking
3-6 months
  • begins cooing (e.g. ooo, eee)
  • learning that words are related to actions
5-12 months
  • babbling (e.g. baba, gaga)
  • responds to own name and noises in their environment
  • imitates simple sounds
  • begins to use first words (e.g. mum-mum, dad)
  • appears to listen people's voices and expressions
1-2 years
  • begins using more single words
  • attempts new words
  • shakes head for 'no'
  • recognizes names of family members and familiar objects
  • follows simple directions, and may use gestures when following directions
  • asks for 'more', can express 'all gone'
  • will use own name when asked
  • begins combining two words (e.g. car go, more drink)
  • uses babble-like 'sentences'
  • will listen to rhymes or songs for 2-3 minutes
2-3 years
  • combining 2-3 words
  • points to body parts when asked
  • will call self by name when talking
  • vocabulary of several hundred words
  • uses 'a' and 'the', and '-ing' and 's' at the ends of words
  • answers 'where?' and 'what's ___ doing?' questions
  • will listen to simple stories
  • carries out four or more simple instructions
  • carries out a series of two related commands
3-4 years
  • uses sentences of 4-5 words
  • beginning to use complex/joined sentences
  • uses 'is', '-ed' at the ends of words, and some irregular plurals (e.g. feet, mice)
  • tells how objects are used
  • tells experiences and can sequence events
  • talks about future events (e.g. going to, will)
  • carries out two unrelated instructions
  • can pay attention for five minutes while a story is read
4-5 years
  • uses sentences of six or more words
  • using more complex sentences (more adult-like)
  • vocabulary averages 1500 words
  • counts three numbers by pointing
  • begins learning colours
  • carries out a series of three instructions
  • learning concepts (e.g. top, bottom)
  • can tell if words rhyme or not
  • can tell familiar stories without pictures for cues
  • can point out 'what's wrong/silly?' with pictures (e.g. a tree with legs, using a banana as a telephone)
  • can choose the 'odd one out' when shown a group of objects or pictures