Age-Appropriate Speech and Hearing Milestones

An unborn baby's hearing starts to develop early. And at birth, a baby's hearing is fully functioning. Children do respond differently at different stages of growth and development. But hearing problems may be suspected in children who are not responding to sounds. Or in children who are not developing their language skills appropriately. Below are some age-related guidelines that may help to decide if your child is having hearing problems.

It's important to remember that not every child is the same. Children reach milestones at different ages. Talk with your child's healthcare provider if you think your child is not hearing appropriately. Here are the age-appropriate hearing milestones for babies and toddlers.

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

  • Wakes up when there are 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")

  • Gets scared by a loud voice or noise

7 to 12 months


  • Responds to his or her own name, phone 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 such as 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)