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Age-Appropriate Speech and Hearing Milestones

Hearing develops early in fetal development and is fully functioning at birth. While children respond differently at different stages of growth and development, hearing problems may be suspected in children who are not responding to sounds or who are not developing their language skills appropriately. The following are some age-related guidelines that may help to decide if your child is experiencing hearing problems.

It is important to remember that not every child is the same, and children reach milestones at different ages. Talk with your child's healthcare provider if you are suspicious that your child is not hearing appropriately. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and other experts list the following age-appropriate hearing milestones for babies and toddlers.

You Suspect Your Child Is Experiencing Hearing Loss: First Steps

Mother and child.

Is your child showing signs of hearing loss? Get an evaluation as soon as possible with a pediatric otolaryngologist (ENT) and audiologist who specializes in treating children. Treatment options for hearing loss will depend on the diagnosis. The most important thing to remember is that your child can still be successful in school and enjoy taking part in sports and other activities.

Learn how Johns Hopkins can help.

Milestones related to speech and hearing

Birth to 3 months

  • Reacts to loud sounds with startle reflex

  • Is soothed and quieted by soft sounds

  • Turns head to you when you speak

  • Is awakened by loud voices and sounds

  • Smiles in response to certain voices when spoken to

  • Seems to know your voice and quiets down if crying

4 to 6 months

  • Looks or turns toward a new sound

  • Responds to "no" and changes in tone of voice

  • Imitates his or her own voice

  • Enjoys rattles and other toys that make sounds

  • Begins to repeat sounds (such as, "ooh," "aah," and "ba-ba")

  • Becomes scared by a loud voice or noise

7 to 12 months

  • Responds to his or her own name, telephone ringing, or someone's voice, even when not loud

  • Knows words for common things (such as, "cup" or "shoe") and sayings (such as, "bye-bye")

  • Makes babbling sounds, even when alone

  • Starts to respond to requests (such as, "come here")

  • Looks at things or pictures when someone talks about them

  • Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake

  • Imitates simple words and sounds; may use a few single words meaningfully

1 to 2 years

  • Follows 1-step commands when shown by a gesture

  • Uses words he or she has learned often

  • Uses 2 to 3 word sentences to talk about and ask for things

  • Says more words as each month passes

  • Points to some body parts when asked

  • Understands simple "yes-no" questions (such as, "Are you hungry?")

  • Understands simple phrases (such as, in the cup, or on the table)

  • Enjoys being read to

  • Understands "not now" and "no more"

  • Chooses things by size (such as, big or little)

  • Follows 2-step commands (such as, "Get your shoes and come here.")

  • Understands many action words (such as, run or jump)

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