Developmental Milestones

Communication Skills & Activities

Communication is basically how your child communicates with you. It may be with body language (cues), facial expressions, gestures, sign or words. It is often separated into speech and language. Speech is how clearly your child talks to you and others. Language is further divided into receptive and expressive language. Receptive language is your child’s ability to understand others as they are talking (such as following directions). Expressive language includes the words your child uses to express himself/herself (expressing wants, answering questions, etc.). You can promote children’s language development by talking with them face-to-face, describing what you are doing, describing what they are doing, giving them simple directions to follow, and expanding on what they are already saying.

Promote your child’s language development by talking with her face-to-face.


2-6 months

  • Smiles responsively
  • Squeaks/squeals/yells/laughs/makes raspberries
  • Looks in the direction of your voice
  • Enjoys turn-taking games with sounds
  • Locates sounds in the room
  • Plays games like “Peek-a-boo”

6-9 months

  • Uses longer, repeated babbling (dadadada)
  • Imitates sounds made by others
  • Responds with gesture to “want up?”
  • Waves in response to “bye bye”

9-15 months

  • Babbles in short phrases that sound like sentences
  • May begin saying “mama” and “dada”
  • Understands “no,” but may not always obey

15-18 months

  • Follows familiar directions
  • Points to pictures you name
  • Uses words and gestures
  • Says approximately 15 words

2-3 years

  • Putting 2-3 words together and longer utterances as they become older
  • Can answer simple questions
  • Uses names of objects, actions, persons
  • Understands simple directions
  • Asks simple questions
  • Understands simple prepositions (on, in)

4-5 years

  • Uses more adult-like grammar
  • Uses pronouns correctly
  • Uses different tenses (past, present, future)
  • Defines objects by uses



  • Imitate the sounds your baby makes
  • Make different faces with baby
  • Sing to baby
  • Play social games (pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo)


  • Do fingerplays/simple songs/nursery rhymes
  • Look at books with simple pictures: point to and name pictures
  • Encourage your child’s attempts at talking with praise
  • Offer choices and encourage your child to use words to choose
  • Name what child sees and describe their actions
  • Add one more word to what your child says
  • Talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing

2-3 years

  • Read books with simple stories
  • Sing familiar songs
  • Use a variety of words: nouns (tree, Mommy), verbs (jump, sit), adjectives (big, wet), prepositions (in, under)
  • Make puppets and create a short story
  • Have your child follow more specific directions (Bring me the RED sock)
  • Talk about how objects are used and ask your child to tell you how they are used

4-5 years

  • Re-tell your favorite story or create your own
  • Play Simon-Says adding increasingly complex directions for your child to follow
  • Have your child describe objects telling you at least two things about an object
  • Play reverse hide-and-seek – your child hides objects and gives YOU  clues as to where to find them
  • Rhyming: help your child learn simple words that rhyme (make-take or sock-lock)


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