Long before your child has uttered his first word, the process of learning how to communicate has already begun. But with kids developing differently, you could never expect your child to be as fluent as another kid with the same age in his playgroup. So when it comes to your child’s speech and language development, the rule of thumbs is to never compare.

According to experts, language delays are common but many times they are only transient and resolve on their own without any treatment. Hence, a child who may seem to have a language delay during his toddler years may soon catch up with the milestones of his age group at a later time. But since it is considered as one of the most common type of developmental delay in children, it helps to know what to expect from your child through the different stages of his growth.

From birth onwards

At birth, a baby will mainly communicate his displeasure through crying. But at 2-3 months, he can already coo and respond when stimulated. At 3 to 4 months, most babies can already start babbling and may already respond using incomprehensible words. By the 5th month, most babies will react to sounds and may turn their head towards the source of the sound. When you talk, expect your baby to focus on your face as he studies how you form words with your mouth. A 5 month old baby can also convey his feelings through laughing, giggling, fussing or crying.

6 to 11 Months

At 6 to 11 months, many babies can already understand what NO means and it’s an exciting time for parents because it’s the stage when they can first hear their precious ones utter Dadada, Bababa or Mamama. At this age bracket, a baby will also try to imitate the sounds or words that he constantly hears at home

12 to 17 Months

From 12 to 17 months, a baby may already hold his interest in a book or toy for a minute or two. He may also be able to answer simple questions through gestures as well as follow simple directions. And even if your baby’s pronunciation is not yet clear, he can already say two to three words when labeling a person. At this stage, continue to expect your baby to imitate your words as he tries to hone his speech and language skills.

18 to 23 Months

At 18 to 23 months, a child may already enjoy reading time and he can already follow simple commands even without gestures.  It’s also the time when he can already point to body parts such as eyes, nose, and mouth among others. During this stage, a child can already properly pronounce vowels and the consonants n, m, p and h, especially when used in the beginning of words. Expect your child to say 8 to 10 words even if some words may remain unclear. It’s also the time when a child may begin to use pronouns as well as combine words. So when your toddler asks you for more water, instead of just saying water, it means that he has already reached this milestone. And when asking for food, he may already ask for it using the proper name. It’s also the period when a child can already fully understand common verbs such as drink, eat, or sleep.

2 to 3 Years Old

Many kids 2 to 3 years old are already equipped with a 40 to 50 word vocabulary. They may also be familiar with concepts such as in or on and may already know pronouns, understanding the distinction between you, me, and her. Your child may also start using descriptive words and he can speak in 2 or 3 word phrases. It’s also the time when your child learns how to use plurals as well as simple past tense verbs.

3 to 4 Years Old

At 3 to 4 years old, a child can already properly group objects and he may start identifying colors and describe the use of things. Expect some lapses when your child pronounces the letters l, r s, sh, ch y, v ,z. These sounds can only be mastered when a child reaches his 7th birthday or even onwards. Your preschooler may also start using verbs ending in “ing” and he may also begin expressing his ideas. This is an exciting time because you can witness your child getting creative with his language skills.

4 to 5 Years Old

In this age bracket, you can expect a child to use concepts such as behind or next to, and he may also start to understand difficult questions. Your child may also speak clearer, making others understand what he is trying to convey. However, mistakes are expected especially when he pronounces difficult words. At this stage, your child is already capable of describing how things are supposed to be done as well as defining words. Other milestones that are expected include the ability of a child to answer “why” questions including the use of more past tense verbs.

5 Years Old

By the time your child is five years old, he can already understand at least 2000 words. He can also understand time sequences and rhymes, and he can already use his imagination to come up with his own stories. At this age, many kids can already engage in a conversation and can compose at least 8 word sentences.

If your child seems to be missing a lot of his milestones, consult your doctor. Many times, a child can easily cope with the right support and by providing helpful learning tools. But there are also instances when further evaluation may be needed. When in doubt, ask your doctor during any of your well child visits.