Communication Milestones


A simple guide to the first 5 years of communication development.

At 12 Months children can usually...

  • understand about 10 words
  • respond to their name
  • recognise greetings and gestures
  • recognise a few familiar people and objects
  • make eye contact

  • start to use sounds,  gestures, and say a few words
  • continue to babble
  • copy different sounds and noises
Learn moreAt 12 Months

At 18 Months children can usually...

  • understand up to 50 words and some short phrases
  • follow simple instructions
  • point to familiar objects when names
  • point to some pictures in familiar books

  • say 6 to 20 single words - some easier to understand than others, but becoming more consistent
  • copy lots of words and noises
  • name a few body parts
  • use objects in pretend play
Learn MoreAt 18 Months

At 2 Years children can usually...

  • follow simple two part instructions
  • respond to simple wh-questions, such as 'what' and 'where'
  • point to several body parts and pictures in books when named
  • understand when an object is 'in' and 'on' something

  • say more than 50 single words
  • put two words together
  • use their tone of voice to ask a question
  • say 'no' when they do not want something
  • use most vowel sounds and a variety of consonants
  • start to use 'mine' and 'my'
Learn moreAt 2 Years

At 3 Years children can usually...

  • follow more complex two part instructions (e.g. give me the teddy and throw the ball)
  • understand simple wh-questions, such as 'what', 'where' and 'who'
  • understand the concepts of 'same' and 'different'
  • sort items into groups when asked
  • recognise some basic colours

  • say four to five words in a sentence
  • use a variety of words for names, actions, locations and descriptions
  • ask questions using 'what', 'where' and 'who'
  • talk about something in the past, but may use 'ed'
  • have a conversation, but may not take turns or stay on topic
Learn moreAt 3 Years

At 4 Years children can usually...

  • answer most questions about daily tasks
  • understand most wh-questions, including those about a story they have recently heard
  • understand some numbers
  • show an awareness that some words start or finish with the same sounds

  • use words, such as 'and', 'but' and 'because', to make longer sentences
  • describe recent events, such as morning routines
  • ask lots of questions
  • use personal pronouns and negations
  • count to five and name a few colours
Learn moreAt 4 Years

At 5 Years children can usually...

  • follow three part instructions
  • understand time related words such as 'before' and 'after'
  • start thinking about the meaning of words when learning
  • understand instructions without stopping to listen
  • begin to recognise some letters, sounds and numbers

  • use well formed sentences to be understood by most people
  • take turns in increasingly longer conversations
  • tell simple, short stories with a beginning middle and end
  • use past and future verbs correctly
  • use most speech sounds, but still may have difficulties with 's', 'r', 'l' and 'th'
Learn moreAt 5 Years