It can often be difficult for a parent to figure out if their child has a communication disorder. After all, children develop at their own rate, so comparing them with relatives and friends may not be effective. However, there are some typical skills and behaviors that are expected of children based on their stage of development. 

Here are a few:

Hearing and UnderstandingTalking
Birth to 3 Months
  • Startles at loud sounds.
  • Quiets or smiles when you talk.
  • Seems to recognize your voice. Quiets if crying.
Birth to 3 Months
  • Makes cooing sounds.
  • Cries change for different needs.
  • Smiles at people.
4 to 6 Months
  • Moves her eyes in the direction of sounds.
  • Responds to changes in your tone of voice.
  • Notices toys that make sounds.
  • Pays attention to music.
4 to 6 Months
  • Coos and babbles when playing alone or with you. 
  • Makes speech-like babbling sounds, like pa, ba, and mi.
  • Giggles and laughs.
  • Makes sounds when happy or upset.
7 Months to 1 Year
  • Turns and looks in the direction of sounds.
  • Looks when you point.
  • Turns when you call her name.
  • Understands words for common items and people—words like cup, truck, juice, and daddy.
  • Starts to respond to simple words and phrases, like “No,” “Come here,” and “Want more?”
  • Plays games with you, like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake.
  • Listens to songs and stories for a short time.
7 Months to 1 Year
  • Babbles long strings of sounds, like mimi upup babababa.
  • Uses sounds and gestures to get and keep attention.
  • Points to objects and shows them to others.
  • Uses gestures like waving bye, reaching for “up,” and shaking his head no.
  • Imitates different speech sounds.
  • Says 1 or 2 words, like hi, dog, dada, mama, or uh-oh. This will happen around his first birthday, but sounds may not be clear.

1 to 2 Years

  • Points to a few body parts when you ask.
  • Follows 1-part directions, like “Roll the ball” or “Kiss the baby.”
  • Responds to simple questions, like “Who’s that?” or “Where’s your shoe?”
  • Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes.
  • Points to pictures in a book when you name them.

1 to 2 Years

  • Uses a lot of new words.
  • Uses p, b, m, h, and w in words.
  • Starts to name pictures in books.
  • Asks questions, like “What’s that?”, “Who’s that?”, and “Where’s kitty?”
  • Puts 2 words together, like “more apple,” “no bed,” and “mommy book.”

While this list is not exhaustive, it does highlight the main skills children within each age range should develop. Missing one skill in the list doesn’t necessarily mean your child has a problem, but if you find that you are answering no to most of the skills in each range, it may be an early warning sign of a language and/or speech disorder. 

At this point, it would be wise to get a professional evaluation done by a speech-language pathologist.

If you still aren’t sure if your child is displaying early signs, we recommend you try our free interactive screening tool. It is designed to help you clearly identify your concerns or observations about your child. 


Remember, early detection and intervention can make a world of difference in helping your child build their communication skills.