Children learn speech and language from listening to other people talk. The first three years of life are especially crucial for this development as this is the period when the brain is rapidly developing and maturing. Therefore, having good hearing is especially important during this period of life. If a temporary, fluctuating or permanent hearing loss is present, the child may not get the full benefit of speech/language learning experiences. Consequently, critical delays in speech/language may occur.

As a parent, you are the best person to look for signs that suggest poor hearing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes this when it states: “Any child whose parent expresses concern about whether the child hears should be considered for referral for behavioral audiometry without delay.” Parents should not be afraid to let their instincts guide them in requesting or independently arranging for an evaluation of hearing and their child’s speech language development.

Following is a checklist originally published by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders that may help you in knowing what to expect at each stage of speech and language development. It is important to remember this sheet represents the average age that most babies/children accomplish these skills and that some babies/children might not accomplish them until they reach the upper range.

Birth to 3 months:

Reacts to loud sounds

Calms down or smiles when spoken to

Recognizes your voice and calms down if crying

When feeding, starts or stops sucking in response to sound

Coos and makes pleasure sounds

Has a special way of crying for different needs

Smiles when he/she sees you

4 to 6 months

Follows sounds with his or her eyes

Responds to changes in the tone of your voice

Notices toys that make sounds

Pays attention to music

Babbles in a speech-like way and using many sounds, including ones that begin with p, b and m.


Babbles when excited or unhappy

Makes gurgling sounds when alone or playing with you

7 months to 1 year

Enjoys playing peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake

Turns and looks in the direction of sounds

Listens when spoken to

Understands the words for common items such as “cup”, “shoe” or “juice”

Responds to requests (such as “come here”)

Babbles using long and short groups of sounds (“tata, upupup,bibibi”)

Babbles to get and keep attention

Communicates with gestures such as waving or holding up arms

Imitates different speech sounds

Has one or two words (“Hi”, “dog”, “Dada” or “Mama” by 1st birthday)

1 to 2 years

Knows a few parts of body and can point to them when asked

Follows simple commands (“roll the ball”) and understands simple questions “Where’s your shoe?”

Enjoys simple stories, songs and rhymes

Points to pictures, when named, in books

Aquires new words on a regular basis

Uses some one- or two-word questions (“Where kitty?” or “Go bye-bye?”)

Puts two words together (“More cookie”)

Uses many different consonant sounds in the beginning of words

2-3 years

Has a word for almost everything

Uses two-or three-word phrases to talk about and ask for things

Uses k, g, f, t, d and n sounds

Speaks in a way that is understood by family members and friends

Names objects to ask for them or direct attention to them

3-4 years

Hears you when you call from another room

Hears the television or radio at the same level as other family members

Answers simple questions “Who?” “What?” “Where?” and “Why?” questions

Talks about activities at daycare, preschool or friends’ homes

Uses sentences with four or more words

Speaks easily without repeating syllables or words

4-5 years

Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it

Hears and understands most of what is said at home and school

Uses sentences that give many details

Tells stories that stay on topic

Communicates easily with other children and adults

Says most sounds correctly except for a few “l, s, r, v,z, ch, sh and th)

Uses rhyming words

Names some letters and numbers

Uses adult grammar


At HearMD, we provide hearing assessment for children from age 6 months and beyond. Please call us today to schedule an appointment at one of our offices.

*Information taken from NIDCD Fact Sheet – Hearing and Balance “Your Baby’s Hearing and Communicative Development Checklist”, https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/your-babys-hearing-and-communicative-development-checklist