Communication Milestones

Milestones by Age

By 6 Months - Listens and responds when spoken to

  • Smile and make vocal sounds, including some consonant sounds. 

  • Respond to vocalizations from others. 

  • Make eye contact.

By 12 Months - Meaningfully uses "mama" or "dada"

  • Imitate simple gestures (reaching, clapping) and facial expressions. 

  • Turn head when name is called. 

  • Attempt to interact with adults by looking, reaching, or vocalizing. 

  • Play social games by taking a turn (e.g., peek-a-boo). 

  • Share attention (e.g., child follows your gaze and looks at something when you point). 

  • Babble and makes sounds.

By 15 months - May use 5-10 words

  • Copies simple sounds/sound combinations. 

  • Says "mama" or "dada" meaningfully. 

  • Uses gestures to communicate wants or needs (e.g., points, shakes head "no"). 

  • Follows simple routine directions with gesture (e.g., follows "give me" when adult holds out hand). 

  • Has one or two "real" words.

By 18 months - May use 5-10 words

  • Says new words regularly. 

  • Points at something to show others. 

  • Can imitate, or attempts to imitate, new words. 

  • Has five to 10 functional words (Please see the main Language page under for more information about "functional" words under the Vocabulary subheading). 

  • Understands names of common objects in their environment. 

  • Follow simple directions without gestures (e.g., "give the ball to mom" without mom extending a hand or pointing).

By 24 months - Begins to use 2 word phrases

  • Use vocalizations with gestures to communicate (may or may not include real words, but jargon). 

  • Has at least 25 words. 

  • Uses m, p, b, t, d consonant sounds in their speech. (Further information can be found on the main Language page under the subheading Speech Sound Development). 

  • Starts to combine two words.

By 30 months - Spends time in the world of pretend

  • Points to named pictures. 

  • Starts using three-word phrases. 

  • Imitates words regularly. 

  • Starts asking questions. 

  • Uses different types of words (e.g., labels, names, requests, action words). 

  • Understands differences in size (big vs. little).

Pathways.org has a multitude of videos covering different developmental milestones.