Typical Milestones

No child will develop in exactly the same timing as any other child. We ALL have our own personal timing in when we achieve certain milestones in life. However, it can be helpful to take a look at what is considered “average” based on children from all over the country with various backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders in order to have a baseline of what is considered “typical”.  Using this can help you identify areas where your child may not be picking up some of the skills needed to support their ongoing growth and/or cognitive development.  It is important to recognize that falling below the expected age-range is not necessarily a sign of a disorder, but may simply be a delay in development. While both scenarios often require consistent support and therapeutic intervention, a delay can typically be corrected in a shorter period of time.

Here is just a general guideline of the ages that a few developmental skills are expected to be met by:

Sound Development:

Sounds – P -M -H -W – are typically produced between 1-2 years.

Sounds – N  -D -B -K -G -T -“ng” -F – are typically produced between 3-4 years.

Sounds – L -S -“ch” -“sh” -Z -R – are typically produced between 4-6 years.

Sounds – J -TH – are typically produced between 4-6 years.

*It needs to be noted that using these sounds in different positions (beginning, middle, end) of words or phrases or sentences, will have a great impact on the clarity, accuracy, and ease of production. Some sounds, such as “R” for example, may be observed in simple words like “red, read, run”, but may then be distorted/incorrectly produced with words such as “ear, girl, purple”.

Language Development:

This area can consist of expressive language (what we SAY), receptive language (what we UNDERSTAND), pragmatics (how we socially communicate and understand others in social settings, often seen in play-skills with babies/toddlers/preschoolers).


0-3 months

  • can/does attend to caregiver’s mouth and/or eyes
  • child moves in response to voices
  • can express his/her feelings by cooing, gurgling, and crying with differing intonations/volume/sound (differentiated crying)
  • will vocalize in response to caregiver’s smile and voice, as well as to express pleasure

4-6 months

  • smiles at someone speaking to them
  • vocalizes to objects in play
  • laughs
  • can produce “mama/dada” without meaning/naming caregiver
  • babbles in play and to gain attention from others
  • will use vocalizing to express pleasure and displeasure

7-9 months

  • can recognize the names of close family members
  • responds to “no” most of the time
  • will attend to pictures
  • engages in turn-taking games (peek-a-boo)
  • uses gestures and vocalizations to protest/demonstrate displeasure with an activity/item
  • will vocalize during play, alone and with others
  • attempts to sing along with a familiar or repetitive song (Old McDonald, Head-Shoulders-Knees-Toes)

10-12 months

  • recognizes familiar people and objects when named for him/her
  • looks at named pictures with caregiver/adult
  • attends to new words
  • identifies two body parts on self
  • responds to “give me” by handing requested item (simple vocabulary)
  • uses/responds social gestures (waving “hi”/”bye”, blowing kisses, etc.)
  • uses vocalization to intentionally communicate
  • can consistently use one to two words spontaneously (naming/requesting/initiating interaction)


12-18 months

  • Brings objects to show an adult
  • Requests objects by pointing and vocalizing or possibly using a word approximation
  • Tries to gain another’s attention vocally
  • Uses gestures/vocalizations in order to request an action/help
  • Says “bye” and possibly a few other familiar/frequently used words such as “hi,” “thank you,” and “please”
  • Protests by saying “no” shaking head, moving away, frowning, or pushing objects away
  • Comments on objects/actions by directing listener’s attention to it with a point and/or vocalization/word
  • Answers simple “wh” questions with a vocal response (may be unintelligible)
  • Acknowledges speech of another person by giving eye contact, vocally responding, or imitating part/word spoken
  • Teases, warns, scolds using gesture AND a vocalization or a word attempt.

18-24 months

  • Uses gestures with words to initiate and get needs met
  • Says “what’s that?” to gain attention
  • Is using single WORDS (not just sounds) and some two-word phrases to command/direct (go!), indicate possession (mine!), express problem/pain
  • Practices verbal turn-taking with caregiver/some peers.

Feeding Development

0-3 months

  • Physical response to stimulation in/around lips, mouth, oral cavity.
  • Will turn toward stimulation when touching cheeks
  • Appropriate intake of formula or breastmilk through a nipple without gagging, coughing, choking.
  • Sequenced breathing while feeding from nipple, able to suck milk 2-3 times between breath without gagging.

3-6 months

  • Attempts to “hold” bottle during feeding
  • Able to take in baby-cereal and/or pureed fruits and vegetables from a small spoon without sign of gagging or gurgle sound following feeding.

9-12 months

  • Has strong lip-closure while swallowing liquids/soft solids with little to no leakage.
  • Attempts to self-feed using fingers
  • Able to consume soft, mashed “table” foods and tolerate
  • Drinks from a sippy-cup and is able to hold independently
  • Attempts/has some success drinking from a straw

12-18 months

  • Can safely consume finely chopped table foods
  • Successfully bite through and chew crunchy textures
  • Lateralizes (side to side movement) food inside her mouth while chewing, with minimal to no loss of food out of her mouth.

Should you see areas where your child is NOT participating independently in any of the above developmental tasks by the appropriate/expected age, it is a great idea to take the first step in just scheduling an evaluation. By doing so, you are not expressing a need for therapy, but rather a desire to just “check” that everything is developing appropriately. This is especially critical in the first few years of life, as habits begin to form and developmental deficits can greatly impact later development, causing delays where they could have been prevented.  In addition, having an evaluation done each year will give you a concrete report/scores of their development and how much is being achieved each year. This can be very useful when enrolling your child in school, as well as having available to show your pediatrician should she/he have questions/concerns arise during Well-Visits.

To get more information about how/when/why to schedule an evaluation, click here.