Hearing Problems and Speech and Language Milestones
Skip to Content

Women's Health

Hearing Problems and Speech and Language Milestones

Children may reach speech and language milestones at different ages. But in some cases, a child that isn’t developing speech and language on track may have a hearing problem.

Signs of a hearing problem

Being able to hear is important for good speech and language growth. A child who doesn’t respond to sounds or who isn’t developing language skills may have trouble hearing. The age guidelines below may help you know if your child has a hearing problem. Talk with your child's healthcare provider if you think your child isn’t developing speech and language skills on time.

Speech and language milestones



Birth to 3 months


  • Reacts to loud noises

  • Smiles at you

  • Makes sounds of pleasure

  • Knows your voice and may calm down if upset

4 to 6 months


  • Laughs

  • Babbles (says "ba-ba-ba")

  • Notices music or toys that make sounds

7 months to 1 year


  • Looks towards sounds

  • Understands some words like cup or shoe

  • Imitates different sounds

  • Says first words

1 to 2 years


  • Can point to a few parts of the body

  • Points to pictures in books when asked

  • Asks simple 2-word questions

  • Continues to add new words

  • Uses 2-word phrases, such as "more milk"

2 to 3 years


  • Knows some spatial concepts, such as in and on

  • Has words for most things

  • Follows 2-step instructions

  • Uses 3-word sentences

  • Friends and family can understand much of what is said

  • Enjoys hearing stories

  • May have trouble with some sounds

3 to 4 years


  • Can hear you from another room

  • Can hear the TV and radio at same volume as others

  • Identifies colors and shapes

  • Talks about daycare, preschool, or other activities

  • Use 4-word sentences

  • Uses plural words, such as shoes or socks

  • Uses pronouns, such as you, me, and her

  • Strangers are able to understand much of what is said

  • Answers simple questions, such as "What do you do when you are hungry?"

4 to 5 years


  • Understands words for time, such as today and tomorrow

  • Understands words for order, such as first and last

  • Follows more difficult or multistep directions

  • Can say all speech sounds

  • Identifies letters and numbers

  • Can tell a short story

  • Can have a conversation

Online Medical Reviewer: Amy Finke RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Online Medical Reviewer: Liora C Adler MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2021
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.