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How do I know if my child has a communication delay?

Many parents are often overwhelmed or bombarded with information regarding milestones and development as soon as their child is born. Between social media, parent support groups, and advice from family and friends, you probably receive an array of conflicting information that can feel overwhelming at times, especially if you have concerns about your child's communication development. So, let's first chat about early language activities that you can easily implement into your daily routine to help facilitate language for your little one.

Research tells us that early language development is learned best through every-day intentional interactions with caregivers in a natural environment. Meaning-keep it simple! You don't need fancy toys or colorful flashcards to foster language development. Play with your child! Describe things you are doing and seeing in your everyday routines! Model simple play routines and use toys you already have in your home to facilitate imagination, interaction, and communication! Here are some additional ideas to support language development at home:

  • Self Talk-Talk out loud about what you're doing and what they're doing

  • Repetition-Repeat words over and over again throughout the day

  • Simplify- Use short phrases and sentences (i.e. instead of "tell me I want more cheese" prompt them to say "more cheese")

  • Give 2 choices-Do you want ___ or ____?

  • Sabotage-Set up play routine so they need your help (i.e. container is difficult to open)

  • Sign Language- Teach early sign language

  • Follow their Lead- Talk about their interests

  • Wait- Pause and give time to respond

If you continue to have concerns about your child's communication development, below are communication milestones that will help you determine if your child is near where they should be for their age.

Birth to One year Milestones (adapted from

What should my child be able to do?

Hearing and Understanding/Talking

Birth–3 Months

  • Startles at loud sounds.

  • Quiets or smiles when you talk.

  • Seems to recognize your voice. Quiets if crying.

Birth–3 Months

  • Makes cooing sounds.

  • Cries change for different needs.

  • Smiles at people.

4–6 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.

4–6 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–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–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.

One to Two Years (adapted from

Two to Three Years (adapted from

Three to Four Years (adapted from

Four to Five Years (adapted from

Reach out to a licensed speech language pathologist for a formal evaluation if you have continued concerns about your child's communication development. Early Intervention is key to earlier success in communication!



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