Although speech and language continue
to develop through adolescence, children usually reach major milestones in
predictable stages by 6 years of age. The exact pace at which speech and
language develop varies among children, especially the age at which they begin
Communication skills are often categorized as receptive
language and expressive language. Receptive language is the understanding of
words and sounds. Expressive language is the use of speech (sounds and words)
and gestures to communicate meaning.
It is possible that the main title of the report Down Syndrome is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.
Babies start to process the communication
signals they receive and learn to
vary their cries to communicate their needs. During the first months of life,
a baby is usually able to recognize his or her mother's voice and actively listen to
language rhythms. By 6 months of age, most babies express themselves through
cooing. This progresses to babbling and
By the first birthday, babies understand and
can identify each parent, often by name ("mama," "dada"). They repeat sounds
they hear and may know a few words.
After the first birthday through age 2, a
toddler's speech and language foundation grows rapidly. During that time,
1-year-olds learn that words have meaning. They point to things they want, and
often use one- or two-syllable sounds, such as "baba" for "bottle." By age 2,
children usually can say at least 50 words and recognize the names of many
objects, including those in pictures. They also understand simple requests and
statements, such as "all gone."
Many 2-year-olds talk a lot. They
usually can name some body parts (such as arms and legs) and objects (such as a
book). Not all their words are intelligible; some are made-up and combined with
real words. In addition to understanding simple requests, they can also follow
them (such as "put the book on the table"). They should be able to say at least
50 words. They usually can say about 150 to 200 words, some of which are
simple phrases, such as "want cookie." Pronouns (such as "me" or "she") are
used, but often incorrectly.
Some children are naturally quieter
than others. But a child who consistently uses gestures and facial
expressions to communicate should be evaluated by a doctor. These children are
at increased risk for having speech problems.
More sophisticated speech and language
develops from ages 3 through 5. By age 3, most children learn new words quickly
and can follow two-part instructions (such as "wash your face and comb your hair"). They start to use plurals and form short complete sentences. And most
of the time their speech can be understood by others outside of their family.
"Why" and "what" become popular questions.
Most 4-year-olds use
longer sentences and can describe an event. They understand how things are
different, such as the distinction between children and grown-ups. Most
5-year-olds can carry on a conversation with another person.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
December 21, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this