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Speech and Language Milestones- What Parents Need to Know

By Meghan Ryan, M.S. CCC-SLP

Smart Speech Inc.


The first years of a child’s life are all part and parcel to an emotional roller coaster. Parenting is, for the most part, a collection of trial and error scenarios and troubleshooting your way through tantrums, behaviors and illnesses. Occasionally parents need to be reminded to pay close attention to their children’s development. Speech and language development, especially within the first three years is no different.

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Sometimes and caregivers voice some concern about their children’s speech and language delays, while other times parents are completely unaware that there is a cause for alarm until the pediatrician asks about their child’s communication skills at a well visit. Because parents are the first line of defense against speech and language delays, it is critical for parents to have an understanding of speech and language milestones at this time in their child’s life.


The lack of consistent babbling or when a child does not initiate a request for an object while gazing at the object, may be two red flags that indicate it is time to see a speech expert or consult your pediatrician. Other red flags include:


At 18 months:

•   Lack of communicative gestures

•   Little to no attempt to imitate words said by parents or other family members within their immediate surroundings

•   Seems to understand fewer than 50 words or phrases

•   A vocabulary of less than 10 words


At 24 months:

•   Speaks fewer than 50 words

•   Does not use any two-word combinations

•   Largely unintelligible speech

•   Speech or language regression of any kind


At 36 months:

•   has a vocabulary of single-syllable words only

•   Few or no multiword utterances

•   does not ask questions

•   Is not understood by most people

•   Frequent tantrums when not understood

•   Echoing of words and sounds without intent or purpose


Additionally, if your child has a history of feeding problems, nutrient deficiency or multiple ear infections within the first year of his life, it is important to seek the advice of a professional, as he or she could be at risk for speech and language delays.


For more information on speech, visit the Smart Speech Inc.’s blog or to schedule a free 30-minute “Let’s Get Talking” consultation, visit


About Meghan Ryan, MS CCC-SLP
Meghan is the owner of Smart Speech Inc., a home-based speech therapy service that is available throughout Westchester County, NY. Her services include traditional speech language therapy available throughout Westchester County, NY, remote consultation and a unique focus on precautionary practices and parent/caregiver education. Created in 2006, Smart Speech Inc has given many children with special needs and their parents the tools needed for effective communication. Several evidenced-based practices are utilized and all services are tailored specifically to meet the needs of individual students. For more information, or to schedule a free 30-minute consultation, please visit or contact


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