Handbook of Language and Literacy Development - a Roadmap from 0 to 60 Months

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Developmental Milestones


Skill / Category


Birth to Three Months


  • Inner ear starts to function in utero.
  • From birth, reacts to loud sounds.
  • Difficulty hearing soft sounds.
  • Can discriminate between speech sounds and recognize voices.

Four to Six Months


  • Ability to hear soft sounds improves rapidly.
  • Can judge the distance of sounds and look up or turn towards a new sound.
  • Starts babbling.
  • Begins to imitate speech sound .

Seven to Twelve Months


  • Begins to respond to own name and simple requests (e.g. "Come here")
  • Reliably turns head towards sounds, even when soft
  • Imitates many different speech sounds
  • Difficulties hearing when the background is noisy

Thirteen to Thirty-Six Months


  • Explosion in word learning from listening to caregivers talking around them.
  • Improvement in the ability to locate objects in space in all directions
  • Points to a few body parts when asked
  • By at least 2 years, follows simple requests (e.g., “Get your book”)
  • Continue to have difficulty hearing in noisy environments

Thirty-Seven to Sixty Months


  • Hears and understands most of what is said
  • By 4-5 years, improved ability to hear in noise
  • Less consistent than adults in how they categorize speech sounds, particularly when speech cues are degraded or missing