Speech and Hearing Milestones
Every child learns, grows and develops at their individual pace.
From the first smile to the first steps, learning how to communicate and acquire speech and language skills is a very personal journey for every child. However, while the scope for development is wide, there are certain milestones and red flags to be aware of which can help you decide if your child is on the right track.
As babies, our brains form over a million neural connections very early on. After this initial phase, these connections are reduced so the brain can become more efficient. This process is called pruning. Neural connections that babies and children aren’t using are pruned, and the connections which are being used are strengthened.
A child who was late to make sounds, talk and use language may not be using, and in turn, strengthening the neural connections in the language areas of the brain.
Talking to and engaging with your baby right from birth encourages and supports them to use and strengthen these connections, ensuring a stronger foundation for language development and learning.
So, what are the milestones and red flags parents and carers should look out for when it comes to speech and language?
Speech and Hearing Milestones
- Startles or jumps to loud sounds.
- Recognises your voice and quietens when you speak.
- May still or stop sucking to an interesting sound when feeding.
- Stirs from light sleep when someone talks loudly or makes a sound.
- Turns eyes towards an interesting sound.
- Babbles and starts to use different sounds.
- Responds to voice changes such as tone.
- Enjoys noise making toys.
A one-year-old is typically very social and loves to engage with people close to them, seeking them out and demanding attention because they want to connect and communicate with you. Your child should:
- Understand their name and approximately 10 familiar routine words.
- Vocalise to gain attention to have needs and wants met.
- Babble vowels and consonants in combinations (e.g. ‘baba’, ‘doogaabee’).
- Imitate actions such as clapping and waving.
Two-year-olds love to say ‘no’ when they don’t want something and are starting to use key words like ‘mine’ and ‘my’. Your child should:
- Understand up to 100 words and says more than 50 words.
- Combine two words in a sentence (e.g. ball gone, bye mum).
- Answer What? and Where? questions
- Use a wide range of words to communicate (e.g. actions,
Three-year-olds love to chat and engage in conversation but might not take turns or stay on topic. Your child should:
- Start to participate in conversations.
- Predominantly use 4 to 5 word sentences to communicate.
- Start to ask questions.
- Produce the speech sounds; p, b, m, d, n, h, t, k, g, w, f, y.
- Starts to become interested in written forms of words.
- Can recognise their name when written.
- Can retell or describe a recent event in detail.
- Produces the speech sounds; l, ch, s, v, sh, z.
If your child is:
- Not babbling by 12 months of age
- Not talking by 2 years of age
- Not putting words together to form simple sentences by 3 years of age
- Not meeting developmental milestones in all areas of development
- Has recurring ear infections or ear pain
- Appears to miss information or ignores others
- Has poor social skills – withdrawing from social interactions
- Experiencing behavioural issues that are different to other children the same age
Then contact a speech pathologist or audiologist in your area.
Download your full speech and hearing milestone guide:
Please seek medical advice if you believe your child needs hearing, speech, language or literacy support.
Being quick to act and give extra support to a young child who may be struggling to communicate helps ensure the neural connections in the language areas of the brain are used and strengthened. The early years are the optimal time for brain development, and a child with a stronger foundation for language development will more readily use language to form strong social connections with others and the world around them.
Trusting your gut instinct is also vital when it came to your child’s development.
As a parent, no one else knows your child better than you do. That feeling or intuition something isn’t quite right can be there because you know your child so well. Always trust your intuition, it’s a powerful thing.
If you think your child may be experiencing speech and language difficulties, Telethon Speech & Hearing can help guide you to make the right decision for your child.
Call 9387 9888 or request an appointment online with one of our specialists today.