It is well-recognized that the relationship between hearing and speech-language development is critical in the early years of a child’s life. Children learn speech sounds and how to use language by listening to the speaking habits of others.

Helping Children Learn Language:

Parents and caregivers are the most important teachers during a child’s early years. Even young babies notice when others repeat and respond to the noises and sounds they make. Children’s language and brain skills get stronger if they hear many different words.

Parents can help their child learn in many different ways, such as:

  • Responding to the first sounds, gurgles, and gestures a baby makes.
  • Repeating what the child says and adding to it.
  • Talking about the things that a child sees.
  • Asking questions and listening to the answers.
  • Looking at or reading books.
  • Telling stories.
  • Singing songs and sharing rhymes.

Communication Checklist:

Below is a checklist* to aid parents in determining if their child is meeting milestones when it comes to language and/or hearing disorders.

This checklist should be shared with your pediatrician and a speech and hearing professional.

Birth to 3 Months    
Reacts to loud sounds Yes No
Calms down or smiles when spoken to Yes No
Recognizes your voice and calms down if crying Yes No
Starts or stops sucking in response to sound when feeding Yes No
Coos and makes pleasure sounds Yes No
Has a special way of crying for different needs Yes No
Smiles when he or she sees you Yes No


4 to 6 Months    
Follows sounds with his or her eyes Yes No
Responds to changes in the tone of your voice Yes No
Notices toys that make sounds Yes No
Pays attention to music Yes No
Babbles in a speech-like way and uses many different sounds, including sounds that begin with “p, b, w, h, and m” Yes No
Laughs Yes No
Babbles when excited or unhappy Yes No
Makes gurgling sounds when alone or playing with you Yes No


7 Months to 1 Year    
Enjoys playing peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake Yes No
Turns and looks in the direction of sounds Yes No
Listens when spoken to Yes No
Understands words for common items such as “cup,” “shoe,” or “juice” Yes No
Responds to requests (“Come here”) Yes No
Babbles using long and short groups of sounds (“tata, upup, bibibi”) Yes No
Babbles to get and keep attention Yes No
Communicates using gestures such as waving or holding up arms Yes No
Imitates different speech sounds Yes No
Has one or two words (“Hi,” “dog,” “Dada,” or “Mama”) by first birthday Yes No


1 to 2 Years    
Knows a few parts of the body and can point to them when asked Yes No
Follows simple commands (“Roll the ball”) and understands simple questions (“Where’s your shoe?”) Yes No
Enjoys simple stories, songs, and rhymes Yes No
Points to pictures, when named, in books Yes No
Acquires new words on a regular basis Yes No
Uses some one- or two-word questions (“Where kitty?” or “Go bye-bye?”) Yes No
Puts two words together (“More cookie”) Yes No
Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words Yes No


2 to 3 Years    
Has a word for almost everything Yes No
Uses two- or three-word phrases to talk about and ask for things Yes No
Uses “k, g, f, t, d, and n” sounds Yes No
Speaks in a way that is understood by family members and friends Yes No
Names objects to ask for them or to direct attention to them Yes No


3 to 4 Years    
Hears you when you call from another room Yes No
Hears the television or radio at the same sound level as other family members Yes No
Answers simple “Who?” “What?” “Where?” and “Why?” questions Yes No
Talks about activities at daycare, preschool, or friends’ homes Yes No
Uses sentences with four or more words Yes No
Speaks easily without repeating syllables or words Yes No
Is readily understood by strangers even in the presence of some sound errors Yes No


4 to 5 Years    
Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it Yes No
Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school Yes No
Uses sentences that give many details Yes No
Tells stories that stay on topic Yes No
Communicates easily with other children and adults Yes No
Says most sounds correctly except for a few (“l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, and th”) Yes No
Uses rhyming words Yes No
Names some letters and numbers Yes No
Uses adult grammar Yes No

*Checklist provided by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders