Speech and Language Development - From Birth to Six Years

Shubhi Kapoor
a year ago
Mind Mind
0-2 0-2
Speech and Language Development

Speech is the verbal expression of language, whereas, language is the way we get and give information. It is a way of communication and can be verbal, non-verbal and written. 

Speech delay means the child is unable to speak or produce any sound of the language that is appropriate for his age. A child with a speech delay might use words to express his ideas but he will be hard to understand. 

Language delay means a delay in the verbal components of a language. A child is said to have language delay when he lacks the age-appropriate language skills, either in terms of understanding it or speaking it. A child with language delay might say words well but only be able to put two words together. 

The following is a rough guideline to help track your child’s speech and language development: 

Age of Child


At birth


2 to 3 months

Variations in crying depending on what the baby is trying to communicate.

3 to 4 months

Babbling, Crying

5 to 6 months

Rhythmic Babbling, Crying

6 to 11 months

Talking through expressive babbling.

One year

  • Respond to their name.

  • Understand Simple Instructions.

  • Speak One or Two Words.

18 months

  • A Vocabulary of about 20 - 30 words.

Two years

  • Vocabulary of about 50 - 75 words.

  • Speak 2-word Sentences.

  • Understand ‘No’.

  • Wave 'Hello' and 'Bye'.

Three years

  • Vocabulary of 200 words or more.

  • Speak 3-4 word sentences.

  • Understands colours, body parts, big and small sizes, plural.

  • Identifies self as ‘me’.

  • Listens to the same story repeatedly.

  • One should be able to comprehend 75% of what the toddler says.

Four years

  • A Vocabulary of about 1000 words.

  • Narrate stories using 4-5 word sentences.

  • Aware of a lot of concepts and can recite several rhymes.

Five years

  • A Vocabulary of over 1500 words.

  • Can string 4-5 words together to form a sentence.

  • Asks many questions with what, why, how etc.

  • Aware of many concepts.

  • Uses past tense.

Six years

  • A Vocabulary of 2000 words or more.

  • Speak full sentences with 5-6 word.

  • Understands relative spatial orientations like near, far, besides, away, etc.

  • Can describe objects, count up to 10, understand left/right side.


Reasons for speech and language delay: Delay can be caused by a variety of reasons like learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, hearing impairment, chronic ear infections, abnormalities in the tongue or palate, oral motor issues, children born premature and birth-related neurological issues like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. These days nuclear families and busy parents force children to be stuck with too much screen time. Not having enough opportunities for a two-way communication process can also lead to a delay. 

It is important to provide a home environment where the baby can develop his language skills early on. Here are some tips:

  • Talk to you baby right from birth. It stimulates the language centre of the brain.

  • When the child starts babbling, encourage him by pretending to understand the conversation and respond to him. 

  • While doing your chores, keep talking to your child about what you are doing. 

  • Read a lot of books to your baby. It's never too much and never too early to start.

  • Sings songs to your baby. Music has a positive effect on the brain and stimulates the language centre. 

  • After about 2.5-3 years, your child will have a never-ending stream of whys and hows. Answer them patiently to help them understand things and encourage two-way communication. 


When parents observe signs of delay, it is best to consult a speech-language pathologist, who can evaluate the underlying problem and address it. The earlier it is identified, the sooner it can be set right. The pathologist will advise the kind of speech therapy required to put your child on the path to proper speech and language development.

Stay Tuned! Stay Relevant!

This article has been reviewed by our panel. The points, views and suggestions put forth in this article have been expressed keeping the best interests of fellow parents in mind. We hope you found the article beneficial.
• body
• development
• milestones
• one year
• two year
• speech
• language
• birth
• chart
• three year
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