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Before that exciting first word and beyond, here are the major speech and vocabulary developments to expect from birth to age 8.
Learn more about your child's speech and verbal development.
Talking doesn't begin with words, but with coos. During babies' first three months, those sweet sounds are their way of telling you that they're happy. From then on, language skills usually develop in a pretty orderly fashion, although it's normal to hit these milestones a little early or a little late.
Between 2 and 3 months, babies' cries start to sound different in different situations, depending on what's upsetting them.
Around 3 to 4 months, babies coo with more varied vowel sounds and begin to babble, making consonant sounds like “muh…muh” or “bah…bah.”
At 5 to 6 months, babies mimic intonation by making their own voice rise and fall.
If you notice that your baby isn't making vocal sounds by 7 months, bring it up with the doctor.
Toward the end of their first year, babies use new sound combinations and try to imitate their parents' speech. They even have pretend conversations, taking turns "talking."
Children tend to say their first real word around their first birthday.
At about 14 months, toddlers use inflection in their speech, such as raising their tone when asking a question.
If your toddler isn't saying any words by about 15 months, bring it up with the doctor.
When children are 16 months old, they usually direct their words to others instead of just babbling to themselves.
By 18 months, they typically have a vocabulary of 10 to 20 words.
Before their second birthday, they'll likely use two-word phrases like "Daddy go."
When children turn 2, they know 50 to 100 words and use two- to three-word sentences.
At ages 2 and 3, children have a vocabulary of 200 to 300 words. They can use up to six words in a sentence and have basic conversations. They'll also ask many questions.
Talk to the doctor if you notice that your preschooler only repeats questions instead of answering them.
Between the ages of 3 and 4, children's favorite words may include "why," "what," and "who." They may sound like they're stuttering at times. This is normal, but tell the doctor if it goes on for more than 6 months. In general, kids this age can be understood most of the time.
By the time children are 4 or 5, they'll be communicating with ease and can describe what's going on in a picture. They pronounce most sounds correctly but may still have trouble with trickier sounds, like L's and R's.
Around age 6 or 7, they'll start to recount past events and retell stories without the help of pictures.
And by 8, children are speech experts who can use complex sentences and carry on a conversation with an adult.