Your Child’s Speech & Language Development: Birth to 5

Having a child is one of the most amazing experience in life. Watching your child grow and thrive and learn will give you a whole new perspective on the world, particularly as you watch your child become a little communicator right before your eyes. Can you believe that your baby started the ground work for her speech and language development in the womb? Research shows that babies begin to making sucking motions at around 16 weeks gestation (developing those oral motor skills for eating and later for talking) and should be able to hear at around 18-20 weeks gestation-starting to actually respond to sounds outside the womb (like your voice) around 25 weeks gestation. So you better start watching what you say early 😉

Amazingly, the second your baby is born, she begins communicating to you! Think about it: the first thing most babies do right after birth is cry. This is your baby beginning to communicate to you.

I’m cold!
It’s too bright!
What the heck just happened!?

Then the nurses place this beautiful little person in your arms and she stares into your eyes. You speak to her and she listens. She listens and knows your voice already! She uses her eyes to study your face (remember that babies can only see about 8 inches in front of their face when born-the distance between the crook of your arm and your face) and soon she will use those same eyes to communicate to you.

So how does your child develop her speech, language and communication skills from birth until they head off to kindergarten? And how can you nurture those skills along the way?

Welcome to my new series on speech and language development in the first 5 years of life. In this series I cover basic developmental milestones that you should expect along the journey your child takes from his first breath to his first day of kindergarten. In addition, I will soon be starting new posts where I will be expanding on the Strategies To Help Your Child Talk that I have posted about in the past, including more tips on setting up the environment for communication. I recently just did a HUGE overhaul in my OWN home that I am excited to share with you all!

Are you ready? Here are each segment of my Speech and Language Development Series. Feel free to leave comments or questions and I will be sure to respond!

Your Child’s Speech and Language Development: Birth to 6 Months

Your Child’s Speech and Language Development: 6-12 Months

Your Child’s Speech and Language Development: The First Word

Your Child’s Speech and Language Development: 12-18 Months

Your Child’s Speech and Language Development: 18-24 Months

Your Child’s SPeech and Language Development 24-36 Months

Your Child’s Speech and Language Development 3 Years to 4 Years

Your Child’s Speech and Language Development: 4 Years to 5 Years


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About Katie

Katie is a licensed, credentialed and certified pediatric speech-language pathologist and mom to three (5, 3 and 9 months). Her passion about educating, inspiring and empowering parents of children with all abilities led her to start her blog Playing With Words 365 where she shares information about speech and language development, therapy ideas and tips, intervention strategies and a little about her family life too. Katie has been working in the field of speech pathology for 9 years and is certified in The Hanen Centre’s It Takes Two to Talk ® and Target Word ® programs and holds a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In addition to blogging and being a mommy, Katie works part time in her small private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. What a wonderful series I can’t wait to follow along
    Cerys @ Rainy Day Mum recently posted..Roy Lichtenstein – Kids Get ArtyMy Profile

  2. I can’t wait for this. We are still working on helping our 22 month-old whose expressive speech is struggling. However, his receptive language is way beyond his years. Looking forward to following the series and hearing your great ideas as usual.
    Growing Book by Book recently posted..Building a Library on a Tight BudgetMy Profile

    • Jodie, so happy to have you with us! Believe me, I can relate. Ev (20 months) is talking but NOTHING like his older sister did. And she wasn’t advanced for her age. It has been interesting for me as a parent and an SLP to have my little guy be the “quiet” kid. I’ll have some tips coming….just today I was “working” with Ev in the grocery store…I’ll talk about it in a future post!

  3. Hi, I have a 12 month old with what seems to be great language skills, but I am looking forward to using your ideas to keep helping her language development. I do have an off topic question… The teal blue sweater the girl is wearing in the picture (I’m assuming your daughter) is adorable! I love knitted sweaters. Did you buy it or make it, or did someone make it for you? If it is handmade I would love to know where you got the pattern!

    • Hi Kelly! Welcome! :) As far as the sweater..yes that is my daughter wearing a sweater that was MINE was I was little! It is handmade but I don’t have a pattern…I think my grandmother or great aunt made it for it is over 30 years old! Isn’t it great? Thanks again for stopping by!!

  4. Yay!!! I’m very excited about this. I have a 5 1/2 month old boy, and he is being raised bilingually (or tri-lingually?) and although I don’t expect him to speak as soon as most children any help would be welcome. I am a first generation american so I speak both English and Spanish, but I live in Germany with my German husband. So our “family language” is English, my husband speaks to the baby in German, and I in English, except when I skype with my parents, then its spanish. So, once again… YAY!!!!

    • Nadia, your son is SO LUCKY!!! I’ll be doing a guest post on bilingualism on another blog in a few months and I’ll be sure to share the link on my Facebook Page and blog, I think you will find it interesting. Welcome and so happy to have you here!

  5. Excellent, since I am a Foundation Phase Educator and am seeing many of these e c d lags in perceptual development even in Grade two!

  6. I haven’t read through all the posts yet (I will after leaving this comment) but I have some big questions that I am hoping you may be able to help with.

    My ten month old coos but does not babble (“ma”, “da”, “ba”, etc.). She had some difficulties during labor (a stroke, seizures, low apgars, and craniosynostosis) but is now a happy baby, thriving in most every way except crawling and talking. Her prognosis was so grim initially that I can’t help but worry she may never talk or walk. Have you any experience in situations like this? Any advice?

    • Hi Christy, your daughter’s case is very unique, so I do not have direct experience with her specific struggles. Given her history of strokes and seizures though, she may be at a higher risk of speech and language delays so it would be a good idea to have her followed by an SLP if possible. Talk to your pedi at her 12 month well check. Good luck!

  7. Hi Kati, I am very glad that I found your website. My sister’s son is 3 has speech delay. He hardly know 10 words and it is not clear. Pedi said it is just delay. As mother it worry a lot. Any advice for my sister. Your website has lots of valuable contents which is useful for her. Thank you for your writing.

  8. Hi Katie! a big thanks for all your lovely articles, they are very interesting & helpful.
    my son turned 4 this march & still doesn’t says his “r” and “k” sounds. how can I help him master them?

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