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Age-by-Age Guide to Your Child's Language Skills

Find out what you should expect during your child's language development.
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Babies are born programmed to learn language, and are actually quite adept at it. Their built-in language ability follows a universal timetable, one that transcends ethnicity and socioeconomic class. Here's an overview of what to listen for and when in your child's language development:

Birth to 24 Months

2 months: Cooing; making long vowel sounds like "oo," "aa," and "ee"

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6 months: Babbling using consonants

7 1/2 months: Recognizing familiar words or names

10 months: Pointing, grunting, and gazing to get her demands met; using her own invented words

12 months: Saying his first real words, such as Mama and Dada, a sibling's name, body parts, animal names, or noises like "woof, woof"

14 months: Identifying objects; following simple one-step commands like "Get the ball."

18 months: Saying 50 words; using verbs; asking "What's that?" to get name recognition

24 months: Speaking in two-word sentences, such as "Drink milk" or "Play ball"; using the words "no" and "mine" frequently

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2 1/2 years: Conveying whole thoughts by employing just a few words, like saying "Mommy no socks" for "Mommy isn't wearing any socks today."

3 years: Speaking in longer sentences; putting several thoughts together to tell a story; using about 300 words; following a story line and remembering ideas from it; enjoying nonsense phrases

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4 years: Having extensive conversations with adults; using adjectives in detailed sentences; telling knock-knock jokes; asking questions with proper intonation

5 years: Using expressive vocabulary of 2,500 words; understanding 14,000 words; expressing complicated thoughts like fears and dreams; saying "thank you"; using words to elicit reactions from others

Reporting by Colleen Davis Gardephe

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Sources

  • Johns Hopkins University; J. Lane Tanner, MD, FAAP; Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD; John Bonvillian, PhD

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