Author: Karen KEI
Speech and Language Therapist
By 6 months, babies usually
- make sounds such as cooing, gurgling and babbling to themselves and others
- make noises to get someone’s attention
- look at your face when you are interacting with them
- smile and laugh when they see you
- show their excitement by kicking, waving their arms or make noises when they hear or see someone coming
- Are they looking at you when you are taking them?
- Get close and make sure they can see your face.
- Are they cooing and gurgling to themselves?
- Listen and pause so that they can join in and make ‘conversation’ with you
- Do they smile and laugh with you?
- Play ‘peek-a-boo’ or tickling game
By 12 months, babies usually
- making talking noises, babble string-like sounds, like ‘ba-ba-ba’, ‘ma-ma-ma’ and point at you for attention
- take turns having ‘conversation’, babbling back to people
- respond to their name
- start understand simple words or instructions, such as cup, mummy, give me, bye-bye
- begin to say or gesture their first words
- Do they try to get your attention by making sounds or gestures?
- Wait for them to make a sound or a gesture, copy what they do and wait for them to do it again
- Do they respond to things you say to them?
- Show them what it means by pairing actions with words. Try waving as you say ‘bye-bye’, hold your hands up as you say ‘up’.
- Do they look or point to an object?
- Name and point to objects that they are interested in. Keep it simple and repeat as much as you can
By 18 months, babies usually
- understand a variety of words and short phrases such as object names, action words, adjectives.
- point to body parts
- recognise and point to items when being asked ‘Where is the ball?’, ‘Give me the apple’
- say around 20 words, usually words they hear everyday.
- Begin to join two words together, like ‘daddy eat’, ‘no more’.
- Are they saying words in any form?
- Wait, observe and listen. Describe what they are doing. Talk to them about what you are doing.
- Can they follow instructions?
- Sing nursery rhymes with actions or playful sounds. Add gestures such as an open palm for ‘give’, point to the object you want them to get.
- Do they like playing and exploring?
- Show them different ways to play and add playful sounds to make it fun and interactive.
By 24 months, toddlers usually
- understand longer sentences and instructions, like ‘Get the shoes’, ‘Give daddy the book’
- understand simple Wh questions, like ‘Who’s that?’, ‘Where is the baby?’, ‘Do you want this?’
- begin to ask questions
- put short phrases and sentences together, like ‘bye-bye baby’, ‘I want more’.
- become frustrated when being misunderstood or things did not go their way
- Do they understand simple questions?
- Support their understanding with gestures. For Yes/No questions, support with head nodding or shaking. For simple Wh questions, point to the object/person.
- Do they combine two words together?
- Repeat and expand on what they say. If the child says ‘ball’, you can say ‘big ball’, ‘yellow ball’.
- Do they mispronounce certain sounds?
- Repeat the word back the correct way. There is no need to ask them to repeat.
By 30 months, toddlers usually
- understand and use new words every day
- understand a variety of concepts, like big/small, up/down, in/on/under
- understand simple ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ questions, but not ‘why’
- Using sentences up to 3 words
- listen and understand simple stories with pictures
- Do they understand simple concepts?
- Talk about different concepts during everyday routines. For example, during mealtime, you can say ‘The food is hot’, ‘The juice is cold’, ‘Daddy has a big spoon’.
- Are they making back-and-forth conversations with you?
- Encourage them to keep the conversation going by nodding, smiling and giving responses like ‘oh really?’, ‘wow’. Avoid asking questions.
- When reading, can they point to familiar objects?
- Show them what to do. For example, ask ‘Where is the bear?’, point and say ‘There it is!’. Repeat a few times and wait for them to respond.
By 36 months, children usually
- understand and follow 2-step instructions, like ‘put on your jacket and get the shoes’
- share and refer to something that happened in the past
- ask a lot of questions
- use sentences that are longer and more complicated
- remember and enjoy telling familiar stories or singing songs
- Can they follow more complicated instructions?
- Break down instructions in small steps. Model by doing it with them together.
- Do they ask questions?
- Read books with repetitive lines. Take turns talking about the story and characters.
- Are they speaking in sentences?
- Add words to children’s sentences to show how words link together. If they say ‘mummy dog’, you can say ‘yes, the dog is barking’.