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A Parent's Guide to Speech, Hearing, and Language Development

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, so there is no better time to brush up on your developmental milestone knowledge! Remember- early intervention is key! Talk to your pediatrician if your child is not meeting these milestones to determine if a referral to a speech-language pathologist or audiologist might be necessary.


  • Reacts to loud sounds

  • Calms down or smiles when spoken to

  • Recognizes your voice and calms down if crying

  • When feeding, starts or stops sucking in response to sound

  • Coos and makes pleasure sounds

  • Has a special way of crying for different needs

  • Smiles when he or she sees you

  • Enjoys physical contact

  • Makes eye contact


  • Follows sounds with his or her eyes

  • Responds to changes in the tone of your voice

  • Notices toys that make sounds

  • Pays attention to music

  • Babbles in a speech-like way and uses many different sounds, including sounds that begin with p, b, and m

  • Laughs

  • Babbles when excited or unhappy

  • Makes gurgling sounds when alone or playing with you

  • Expresses a variety of emotions

  • Develops strategies to calm self

  • Explores body parts visually and with touch

  • Interested in people's faces


  • Turns and looks in the direction of sounds

  • Listens when spoken to

  • Understands words for common items such as “cup,” “shoe,” or “juice”

  • Responds to requests (“Come here”)

  • Babbles using long and short groups of sounds (“tata, upup, bibibi”)

  • Babbles to get and keep attention

  • Communicates using gestures such as waving or holding up arms

  • Imitates different speech sounds

  • Has one or two words (“Hi,” “dog,” “Dada,” or “Mama”) by first birthday

  • Responds appropriately to people's facial expressions

  • Enjoys playing social games (patty cake, peek-a-boo)

  • Enjoys watching others and is interested in what others are doing


  • Knows a few parts of the body and can point to them when asked

  • Follows simple commands (“Roll the ball”) and understands simple questions (“Where’s your shoe?”)

  • Enjoys simple stories, songs, and rhymes

  • Points to pictures, when named, in books

  • Acquires new words on a regular basis

  • Uses some one- or two-word questions (“Where kitty?” or “Go bye-bye?”)

  • Puts two words together (“More cookie”)

  • Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words

  • Clingy to parents/caregivers

  • Identifies self in mirror

  • Begins to assert independence or resist adult control

  • Interacts with other children and expresses interest in what other children are doing

  • Temper tantrums are typical at this age

  • Shows preferences for certain toys

  • Recognizes familiar people vs. strangers

It is important that you support and facilitate these skills by playing with your child on their level- the floor. Take time every day to sing, read, and play toys with your child. Being playful with your child builds a strong foundation for future skill development. Below are some of our therapists' favorite toys for toddlers:

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