Tracking the speech and language milestones is important to spot red flags early on.
Mums and dads may have noticed that their baby needs no language to get her message across to you. Even when she is just a few weeks old, parents end up understanding what their little princess wants! However, as she grows up, she needs to express herself using her ability to speak and reach the language milestones in time. And it is just amazing to watch her babbling turn to words!
Language milestones come in handy when you want to check your daughter’s progress. Here are is a language milestone checklist loosely based on the National Institutes of Health, USA guidelines, so check if there are any red flags.
Milestones by the age: 1 year
- Understands her own name
- Pays attention when spoken to
- Understands simple instructions, for instance, ‘don’t eat that!’
- Responds to simple requests, for instance, ‘please give it to me!’
- Understands common words when used with gestures e.g. “hello!”
- Can associate pictures with words and sounds, for instance, ‘tiger roars!’
- Laughs when you laugh and may try to sing along with you
- She imitates familiar words
- Babbles with intention and gives her own words to objects.
- She starts using nouns most exclusively
- Says 2 – 3 words besides “mama” and “dada”
- Calls you out instead of crying for attention
- She is able to participate in games involving other children, like passing the ball and pat-a-cake
Red flags at 1 year
- Does she not respond to you when you call her name?
- Does she babble little or not at all?
Milestones by the age: 2 years
- Understands deniers like ‘no’ and ‘don’t’
- Can point out around 5 body parts
- She can fetch objects from another room when asked
- Nods “yes” and shakes head for “no”
- Understands more words than can say/speak
- She understands simple questions like “where is the door?”
- Enjoys listening to stories
- She can repeat sounds, e.g. say ”meow” and points towards a cat
- Asks for food or toys using their pet words
- Uses single words more frequently than sentences
- She uses words like “more” if she likes something repeated
- Can use 10 to 20 words including names
- She answers ‘what is that’ questions
- Can accurately name a few everyday objects objects
- Begins to use words like “I”, “me” and “you”
- Starts to combine nouns and verbs like “ boy-come’ and ‘bye-cat’
- She can combine two words such as “mummy, Hi!”, ‘no-no’
Red flags at 2 years
- Is your child still unable to speak?
- Does your child prefer to be alone and loathes company?
- Does your child use more gestures than words?
- Are you unsure if she understands what you are saying?
My child does meet a few milestones on the checklist
The checklist is a collective observation where 90% of children do these things by the age indicated. So, if your child does not ‘check’ one or more of these milestones in time, it does not mean there is something wrong with her. It may simply mean that she is a late bloomer as they say.
That said, if the red flags are flagged, it is time to meet your doctor. Luckily, all this assessment is generally done as a part of your growing up check-ups. If you fill up the health booklet regularly before each scheduled checkup, you will have better questions to ask your doctor.
An online copy of the booklet can be found here.
If your child needs therapy, your doctor will refer her to a relevant speech and language expert. An early diagnosis will help your child immensely, so talk to your doctor even if you have the slightest doubts.
Also read: 20 bittersweet milestones all parents endure