How does a child learn to speak?

Normal Speech & Language Development

Speech and Language development plays an important role in the child’s develpoment….

Normal Speech & Language Development


Speech and Language plays a major role in the development of a child. Right from infancy, babies start to imbibe and learn through sounds in the environment. Therefore speech and language development of a child needs to be assessed as it may indicate problems or difficulties the child might be facing in the developmental stage. Here are few milestones that mark the normal speech and language development of the child.


Here are few milestones that mark the normal speech and language development of the child.


0-3 months

In between 0-3 months of age,

  • Babies start recognising familiar voices at this stage.

  • Babies stay quiet at the sound of a familiar voice, if they are crying

  • Small infants who are under the age of three months often react to unfamiliar voices by stopping their activity and attending closely to that sound.

  • Babies also start responding to comforting sounds at this stage regardless of whether the voice is familiar or not.



4-6 months

In between -4-6 months of age,

  • Babies start recognizing and responding to words like ‘No’.

  • They also respond to subtle changes in the tone of voice and to other sounds which is not speech.

  • A baby can now be fascinated by the sounds of a toy or other objects; start to recognize and enjoy rhythm and music.

  • Babies also start to take interest in all kinds of new sounds as the toaster, or maybe the rattling of coins, the birdsongs and the sound of machines, and the likes.



7-12 months

In between 7-12 months of age,

  • Babies go through a rather exciting and fun time as the baby starts to listen to respond to speech.

  • It can recognize its name when called.

  • It also picks up interest in some games like peep-n-see, toss-up and more.

  • It is also in this period that babies pick up familiar words like Mummy, key, car and more.

  • It also begins to respond to such words.

  • In this stage the baby also starts to recognize and respond to requests like ‘Give it to Daddy’ and the likes.



1-2 years

In between 1-2 years of age,

  • Babies ideally start to recognize and point to pictures in a book, and can also recognize and point at certain body parts like eyes, tummy, nose etc.

  • The child also starts to understand simple commands like ‘Do not touch this! It is hot!’, or ‘Push the car’.

  • It also starts to understand simple questions like ‘where is mummy?’ and the likes.

  • At this stage, babies also start to like listening to stories or rhymes.

  • At this stage, the baby might want to listen to the same story, rhyme or game repeated over and over.



2-3 years

At this stage,

  • Babies normally start to understand commands that are two-staged. For example, ‘Pick up the toy and put it in the basket.’

  • It also starts to understand contrasting concepts like hot and cold, stop and go, and so on.

  • The toddler also gets excited if the telephone or the doorbell rings.

  • Babies often want to respond to such sounds themselves or ask you to respond to it.



3-4 years old

At this stage,

  • The 3-four year old can understand and respond to simple questions involving the ‘Who?’, ‘Where?’ and ‘What?’.

  • He or she can also hear you from the other room and respond to you.

  • It is at this stage that hearing difficulties become evident. This could I pair your child’s speech and learning development



4-5 years old

Children in this age group

  • start to enjoy stories and they begin to answer or respond to any simple question about them.

  • At this stage the child starts to understand almost everything that’s spoken to them, whether be at home, day care or pre-school.

  • At this stage, there should not be any doubts regarding your child’s hearing and speech capacities.


In case you are in doubt about it, it is prudent to consult a clinical audiologist about your child’s hearing and a speech-language therapist for your child’s speech. In case there are difficulties, you might have to enroll your child in a special education school to help your child improve his or her learning capabilities.




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