At Home Speech Therapy for Children and Adults in Northern NJ

Providing Our Clients With the Freedom to Speak
At Home Speech Therapy for Children and Adults in Northern NJ


Learning to Talk: Speech and Language Milestones Birth to 3

Posted on August 28, 2017 at 7:30 AM

The first 3 years of a child’s life are crucial to overall development; in just 3 short years a lot of changes occur, such as walking, talking, and developing a unique personality. It can be an exciting time for families as they watch their children develop new and exciting skills. But how do you know if your child is developing “normally” (especially if this is your first child)? I’m here to help you navigate through the first 3 years with this blog post about speech and language milestones.

Before discussing the milestones, I’d like to briefly explain the terminology used to describe communication. Understanding the differences between these terms is important in monitoring your child’s development.

There are two types of language: receptive and expressive. Receptive language is our ability to understand words. Receptive language is fundamental in the development of expressive language and speech. A child’s ability (or inability) to understand sounds and words will impact how s/he uses those words. Expressive language is our ability to express ourselves. Many people think that expressive language is synonymous with speech, but that, in fact, is not true. Expressive language is a broader term. It’s how we express ourselves in all modalities, whether it be speaking, writing, gesturing…Speech, however, is the physical act of talking; it is the way we make sounds.

So now that you understand the different aspects of speech and language, let’s see how your child is doing:

Before 6 months, a child typically:

Vocalizes and coos

Varies vocalizations based on needs

Begins babbling

By 1 year, a child typically:

Follows some simple directions

Identifies familiar objects

Enjoys Peek-a-Boo

Imitates sounds and words

Says a few words

Waves and uses gestures

Between the ages of 1 and 2, a child typically:

Points to objects/pictures upon request

Pays attention to books and pictures

Answers simple questions

Uses new words frequently

Begins combining words

Uses words instead of crying or gesturing

Says the b, d, p, m, n, and h sounds correctly

Is understood 50% of the time by age 2

Between the ages of 2 and 3, a child typically: 

Follows two-step directions

Uses 2- and 3-word phrases and sentences

Tries to have a conversation

Is understood 75% of the time by age 3

Says the w, t, k, g, and f sounds correctly

It’s important to keep in mind that all children are different and speech and language development can vary slightly from child to child. Think about your child in comparison to other children in your family or in your community that are around the same age. If your child is not following the pattern described above, or a pattern similar to those of the children in your family or community, your first step should be to have your child’s hearing tested by an audiologist. An audiologist is a hearing doctor and can complete a thorough examination of your child’s hearing ability (a pediatrician cannot perform this type of test). Hearing loss (even very mild hearing loss), as well as frequent ear infections or fluid in the ear, can impact a child’s speech and language development. After you’ve had your child’s hearing tested, your next step should be to contact a speech-language pathologist to have your child’s speech and language skills evaluated.


ASHA (n.d.). How does your child hear and talk?

Coplan, J., & Gleason, J.R. (1988. Unclear speech: recognition and significance of unintelligible speech in preschool children. Pediatrics, 82,447-452.

McLeod, S. (2009). Speech sound acquisition. In J.E. Bernthal, N.W. Bankson & P. Flipsen Jnr (Eds.), Articulation and phonological disorders: Speech sound disorders in children (6th ed., pp. 63-120 + 385-405). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

About the Author:

Courtney Caruso, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a bilingual (English/Spanish) speech-language pathologist and the owner and founder of Liberty Speech Associates LLC, a speech therapy practice in northern New Jersey. She obtained her MS in Speech-Language Pathology with a bilingual focus from Teachers College, Columbia University. Courtney is licensed to practice speech therapy in the state of New Jersey and holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Courtney is an active member of the New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and is the Chair of its Multicultural Issues Committee.  She is also a member of the ASHA Hispanic Caucus, as well as the Greater Blairstown Business Association.  Courtney has experience working with pediatric and adult clients with an array of disorders and disabilities, including, but not limited to, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, cleft palate, aphasia, receptive/expressive language disorders, and articulation/phonological disorders. Courtney is passionate about her job and, when she’s not working directly with clients and their families, she enjoys giving in-person and web-based presentations and spreading awareness about speech and language through her website and social media. Follow Courtney on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Interested in speech or language therapy? Contact Courtney at 201-658-4400 or

Categories: Speech and Language, Early Intervention, Children

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