Communication Milestones by Age

a person and a child sitting on a yellow chair

These are communication skills that a child is expected to be demonstrating frequently and easily by the age listed. If you are not observing this at home and would like guidance and recommended next steps please reach out to

18-24 months


  • Responds to name (this usually starts to happen by around 6 months of age)
  • Listens to stories, songs, and rhymes
  • Points to at least 5-10 body parts
  • Follows simple directions without gestures
  • Responds to yes/no questions by nodding/shaking head


  • Will point to ask for an object/person
  • Beginning to use 2-3 word phrases
  • Pairs eye contact with word/gestures
  • Adding one new word per week
  • Can say 50 (18 months) to 150 (24 months) words
  • Participates in back and forth communication exchanges (verbally or non verbally)
  • Imitates actions, words, phrases
  • Uses words a variety of reasons (ask for help, ask for an object, get a person’s attention, comment on something interesting, protesting)

24-36 months

Receptive Language 

  • Following 2-step directions without gestures (e.g., “get your ball and sit in the chair” without pointing to either items)
  • Can point to actions in books when named
  • Showing understanding of “what”, “what doing”, “where” and “who” questions
  • Understanding quantifies (more, all, one)
  • Following directions involving descriptive words (big/little, wet/dry), and spatial words (in, on, next to)

Expressive Language 

  • Using different types of words (nouns, verbs, description words, pronouns, spatial words)
  • Consistently using 3 word phrases
  • Asking/Answering a variety of WH questions (who, what, where)
  • Saying 100+ words spontaneously
  • Starting to use word endings (e.g., jump to jumpING, cat to catS, mama to mama’S)

Intelligibility Norms for children by age

It is expected that a child is understood by others the following percentages of time:

Ages 2-3 – understood by others 50-75% of the time

Ages 4-5 – understood by others 75-90% of the time

Ages 5+ – understood by others 90-100% of the time