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A guideline to Hearing and Speech Milestones (2-3 years)

A guideline to Hearing and Speech Milestones (2-3 years)

By Tali Aronowitz

 Please note the following is a rough guideline of the different early hearing and speech milestones and cannot be used as a replacement for an assessment by a professional speech and language therapist or audiologist. This guideline represents the average age by which most children who are learning one language will reach the listed milestones. Children typically do not master all items in a category until they reach the upper age limit in each age range. If your child has not developed one skill within an age range it does not necessarily mean that your child is delayed. However, if your child is not doing the majority of items in an age range please consult a speech-language therapist or an audiologist. Please consult an audiologist if your child does not seem to be reaching the hearing milestones on time or consult a speech therapist if your child does not seem to be reaching the speech milestones on time.

What should my child be able to do?

Hearing and Understanding:

  • Listens to and enjoys hearing stories for longer periods of time
  • Understands differences in meaning (e.g. “go-stop,” “in-on,” “big-little,” “up-down”).
  • Follows two step requests (“Get the book and put it on the table”).


  • Has a word for almost everything.
  • Uses two- three word utterances to talk about and ask for things.
  • Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds.
  • Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time.
  • Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them.
  • Asks why?
  • May stutter on words or sounds

What can I do to help?

  • Use clear, simple speech that is easy to imitate.
  • Show your child that you are interested in what he or she says to you by repeating what he or she has said and expanding on it. For example, if your child says, “big dog,” you can respond by saying, “Yes, that is a big dog. The dog is brown. Does John want to pat the dog?”
  • Let your child know that what she or he has to say is important to you by asking him or her to repeat things that you do not completely understand.
  • Expand on your child’s vocabulary. Introduce new vocabulary through reading books.
  • Talk about colours
  • Practice counting. Count toes and fingers. Count steps as you go down them.
  • Name objects and describe the picture on each page of the book. State synonyms for familiar words (e.g.,daddy , man, adult) and use this new vocabulary in sentences to help your child learn it in context.
  • Put objects into a bucket and have your child remove one object at a time, saying its name. You repeat what your child says and expand upon it: “That is a comb. Sam combs his hair.” Take the objects from the bucket and help your child group them into categories (e.g., clothes, food, drawing tools).
  • Cut out pictures from old magazines and make a scrapbook of familiar things. Help your child glue the pictures into the scrapbook. Practice naming the pictures, using gestures and speech to show how you use the items.
  • Look at family photos and name the people. Use simple phrases/sentences to describe what is happening in the pictures (e.g., “Sam swims in the pool”).
  • Write simple appropriate phrases under the pictures. For example, “I can swim,” or “Happy birthday to Daddy.” Your child will begin to understand that reading is oral language in print.
  • Ask your child questions that require a choice, rather than simply a “yes” or “no” answer. For example, rather than asking, “Do you want milk? Do you want water?”, ask, “Would you like a glass of milk or water?” Be sure to wait for the answer, and reinforce successful communication: “Thank you for telling mommy what you want. Mommy will get you a glass of milk.”
  • Continue to sing songs, play finger games (“Where is Thumbkin?”), and tell nursery rhymes (“Hickory Dickory Dock”). These songs and games introduce your child to the rhythm and sounds of language.
  • Strengthen your child’s language comprehension skills by playing the yes-no game: “Are you a boy?” “Is that a zebra?” “Is your name Joey?”

Adapted from ASHA: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/23.htm#sthash.sXmvDGs7.dpuf