Look what I can do

A baby Speech and language develops gradually as children grow. Click on one of the age groups in the menu below to find out what children can achieve at that developmental stage.

No matter how old a child is, one of the best ways to help their speech and language development is to have some quiet time with them to talk, sing songs or look at books. It is always best to make sure that the TV is switched off and there is hardly any noise in the background.

A selection of the leaflets below can be found here in Arabic, Polish, Romanian and Urdu.

As a baby

It is never too soon to talk to your baby. You can start as soon as they are born. Babies love faces. Hold them close so they can see your face as you talk to them.

Ages and Stages - Baby's first steps to talking[pdf] 507KB

3 months

At 3 months old your baby is likely to be starting to...

  • Use different cries to express their feelings.
  • Recognise familiar voices.
  • Respond to loud noises like a door slamming.
  • Stick out their tongue and move their lips when you speak to them.
  • Smile at around 5-6 weeks.
  • Laugh at about 3 months.
  • Make cooing noises at around 3 months.
  • Show a real interest in your face.

Click here to read our helpful hints for what you can do to help babies from 3 months [pdf] 3MB

6 months

At 6 months, your baby will be starting to ...

  • Make and play with different sounds, saying, for example, baba, dada
  • Cry in different ways to express different needs.
  • Make noises to get attention
  • Make sounds when people speak to them, almost as if they are talking back!
  • Recognise different emotions in parent’s voice and may respond differently e.g. smile, quieten, laugh,
  • Smile at familiar faces
  • Laugh while playing.

Ages and Stages - 6 Months[pdf] 430KB

12 months

At 12 months your baby will be starting to...

  • Try to join in songs by ‘singing’ along
  • Babble strings of sounds to people and toys e.g., badamada
  • Look at you when you call their name
  • Use gestures like pointing and waving
  • Understand words like ‘up’ and ‘bye-bye’
  • Use the odd single word
  • Make noises to get your attention

Ages and Stages - 12 Months[pdf] 431KB

18 months

At 18 months your child is likely to be starting to...

  • Understand simple questions and instructions e.g. Where’s granny?
  • Point to body parts and using simple gestures like waving
  • Use 10 or more words (these won’t always be clear)
  • Get your attention by pointing or making noises
  • Pretend to use real life things when playing, e.g., making tea
  • Copying new sounds and words they hear

Ages and Stages - 18 Months[pdf] 439KB

2 years

At 2 years your child will be starting to...

  • Understand around 100 words and simple instructions e.g., ‘get your shoes’
  • Use about 50 words. These won’t sound like real words because your child will mainly be using sounds like ‘p’, ‘b’, ‘m’ and ‘n’
  • Echo words they hear
  • Put words together to make little sentences e.g., ‘more drink’
  • Use up to two sequences in their play e.g., wash dolly then brush hair

Ages and Stages - 2 Years[pdf] 458KB

2.5 years

At 2 and a half your child will be starting to

  • Learn new words everyday so that they have around 200-500 words they can use
  • Understand longer instructions of up to 2 key words e.g., ‘get a biscuit and your cup’
  • Watch other children playing and occasionally join in
  • Recognise the names and pictures of most common objects
  • Use two word and even three word sentences e.g., ‘eat mummy cake’

Ages and Stages - 2.5 Years[pdf] 473KB

3 years

At 3 years your child will be starting to...

  • Use about 500 to 700 words
  • Enjoy make-believe play, e.g. dressing-up
  • Follow longer instructions with three key words e.g., ‘find the cup and put it in Kim’s bag’
  • Use sentences of around 4 or more words
  • Use little grammar words like ‘I, me, a, the,’ and putting ‘ed’ endings on doing words e.g., ‘We walked’’ but will use immature grammar sometimes e.g., ‘shutted’
  • Talk about things that happened in the past and what might happen in the future
  • Ask lots of ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ questions

Ages and Stages - 3 Years[pdf] 472KB

4 years

At 4 years old, your child is likely to...

  • Use lots and lots of words – about 1000!
  • Seek out friends to play with
  • Understand words that describe things, like ‘hot’ and ‘cold’, ‘long’ and ‘short’
  • Use linking words in my sentences - e.g.,‘and’, ‘then’
  • Understand language that relates to time e.g., ‘yesterday’, ‘tomorrow’
  • Use basic grammar correctly but still make mistakes e.g., “Mummy, I goed to the park’
  • Need less and less adult help to shift attention from a game to someone speaking and back again
  • Use lots of speech sounds correctly but still find ‘th’, ‘r’, ‘ch’, ‘j’ and ‘l’ hard

Ages and Stages - 4 Years[pdf] 439KB

School age

This poster describes the stages of a typical language development, with examples of what you might see and hear in a classroom or school environment. Language development in the primary years steadily builds on the solid foundations that are established during the early years. Children’s attention, listening, understanding, vocabulary, speech, grammar, storytelling and conversations all develop further in terms of skills, knowledge and complexity.

Children develop at different rates and this poster tells you what to expect at different ages. Although it is not an assessment, the information could help you identify children who are not developing language skills as expected.

Children with English as an additional language are at the same risk of speech, language and communication needs as any other child, however, this can be more difficult to identify.


This poster gives information to teachers about language and communication development in secondary pupils. It may help teachers identify those pupils who have an underlying speech, language and communication need.



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