20 Language Development Milestones Ages 0-6

Learn how your child's language skills will develop from the time he's born to the time he enters grade school.



20 Language Development Milestones Ages 0-6

It's amazing how quickly those babbles and coos turn into "Why?" and "No!" Here's what to expect as your child develops important language skills during her first six years. 

From birth to 12 months, your child may:

  • Make eye contact and smile
  • Babble and coo to communicate comfort or happiness
  • Move arms and legs to express joy, excitement, or anger
  • Repeat babbles, such as "da da" or "ma ma"
  • By 8 to 12 months: understand directions, such as putting a hat on his head when told to do so; say his first words

Book PickScholastic Early Learners: Look at Me! Who is smiling back at your baby in this interactive book? She is! Incorporating a mirror throughout the text, this small, but sturdy, board book is perfect for recognizing faces, piquing curiosity, and practicing important observation skills. You and your baby can showcase different emotions in the silly mirror while you read off fun rhyming sight words.  

From 1 to 2 years, your child may:

  • Use sounds and utterances with adult intonation
  • Begin to combine words
  • Engage in telegraphic speech — one- or two-word combinations, such as "Daddy come," "I fall," or "All gone"

Book PickScholastic Early Learners: Lift the Flap: Look Who's TalkingAs your child begins understanding how sounds work with words, this book is the perfect addition to his skill-building. Using a combination of flaps and pushable buttons that say certain words out loud, this read-along is perfect for a new learner beginning to grasp speech. As a bonus, this interactive board book teaches baby signing to expand language even further! 

From 3 to 4 years, your child may:

  • Speak in nearly complete sentences
  • Use pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, articles, and possessives
  • Play with language, making up words and rhymes or repeating chants: "Nicey, dicey, all insidey, apple pie!"
  • Ask many "why" questions, as well as "how" and "when"
  • Tell a simple story, but not in sequence
  • Take turns in conversations, but still interrupt to talk about himself

Book PickLlama, Llama's Little Library. Full of simple rhyming sentences your little learner will love, these books share relatable stories and easy-to-learn vocabulary through a loveable character. With a book for each part of the day — from playtime to bedtime — your child will learn how the world works alongside a curious Llama.  

From 5 to 6 years, your child may:

  • Continue to expand her vocabulary to about 5,000 to 8,000 words
  • Articulate his thoughts with adultlike speech
  • Be aware that a word can have more than one meaning
  • Begin to use language to control situations
  • Often misunderstand words and use them in a humorous way
  • Carry on conversations with others, yet still want to dominate

Book PickThe Word CollectorGetting older means learning new things, from new foods to eat to new words to say. In this story, Jerome is discovering all sorts of words, some much longer than he's ever seen and some so simple he could say them twice. Written by celebrated author Peter H. Reynolds, this book is perfect for blending connection and discovery with vocabulary. By incorporating new language with beautiful illustrations and childhood empowerment, your beginning reader will be enthralled by Jerome's story and the magic behind the words he finds. 

Remember, these are just guidelines. Every child develops differently. If you're concerned that your child's speech may be delayed, consult your pediatrician.

Language-Building Books for Ages 0-6

Speaking & Language Skills
Age 1
Age 6
Age 5
Age 4
Age 3
Age 2
Child Development and Behavior
Communication and Language Development