Development & Health

Child development and skills by age: 0-3 years old

Child development and expected capabilities 0-6 months:

  • Reacts to sounds, while looks or turns her head towards their source. Also, distinguishes one sound from another.
  • Produces various sounds that show pleasure/dissatisfaction and engages in solitary vocal play.
  • Makes eye contact.
  • In addition, shouts when someone is talking to her.

What to do:

  • First, talk to her in a warm and calm tone.
  • Second, sing and laugh together.
  • Then explain the sounds she hears.
  • Last, name familiar people and things of her daily life. Also, comment on what you do at that moment.

When to worry:

  • If she doesn’t react to noises. Hearing test.
  • When she doesn’t make eye contact in attempt to interact with you.
  • If she doesn’t laugh or cries persistently and doesn’t seem to enjoy caresses and hugs (when she cries).
  • When she has difficulty swallowing and has runny nose.

 Child development and expected capacities 6-12 months:

  • Understands simple instructions.
  • Combines sounds to form syllables and tests sounds with her tongue and lips. Says: “ma”, “da” and double syllables (usually up to 4 different sounds, which sound like chords).
  • She usually produces the first words: for instance, “mom”, “dad”.
  • Responds when she hears her name.
  • Communicates non-verbally.
  • Responds to “no” and usually a few more words or phrases.
  • Holds her attention for 2 minutes.
  • Approaches sounds produced by a third person.

What to do:

  • Encourage any kind of interaction (laughter, smile, look, facial-body expressions).
  • Play with your voice. The melody of the speech helps the infant to understand and use the language effectively.
  • No TV is allowed. It offers minimal stimuli and doesn’t promote communication.

When to worry:

  • If she doesn’t react to sounds. Check the hearing.
  • When she hasn’t yet made eye contact.
  • If she doesn’t produce any sounds.
  • When she has difficulty swallowing and has runny nose.
  • If she was “babbling” and suddenly stopped (especially after otitis).

Child development and expected capabilities 12-18 months:

  • Understands simple instructions (with indications).
  • Names familiar objects and gradually increases her vocabulary (at least one word).
  • Locates familiar objects and images.
  • Starts a play or a social routine on her own initiative.
  • Differentiates the sounds she produces, in syllable sequences.
  • Mimics a word.

What to do:

  • Speak normally, using grammatically and syntactic correct sentences and simple words (not “baby talking”).
  • Use books, songs, games, materials suitable for her age and play with any of them that catches her interest.

When to worry:

  • If she doesn’t produce any word.
  • When she suddenly stops talking.
  • If her speech remains stagnant for a long time or signs of regressing appear.
  • When she doesn’t understand simple instructions.

Child development and expected capabilities 18-24 months:

  • Understands more complex instructions.
  • Locates images, verbs, body parts.
  • Says her name.
  • Uses sentences with 2-3 words.
  • Names objects, uses pronouns and expresses denial.
  • Produces a sequence of one-word pronunciations.

What to do:

  • Enrich the vocabulary.
  • Explain the words she doesn’t understand.
  • Repeat the word that she doesn’t say correctly, but don’t ask her to repeat it every time.

When to worry:

  • If she doesn’t make 1-2 word sentences.
  • When her speech is incomprehensible.
  • If her vocabulary is limited to only two words e.g. “mom, dad”.
  • When she repeats syllables or words (in her sentences).
  • If she has difficulty chewing.
  • When she stops trying to talk/communicate.

Child development and expected capabilities up to 3 years old:

  • Names images.
  • Uses sentences in spontaneous speech (3-4 words).
  • Responds to “yes-no” and answers questions introduced with “what-where”.
  • Uses plurals, verbs, general and possessive form.
  • Understands several pronouns, quantitative and spatial concepts.
  • Makes picture.
  • Understands the use of objects.
  • Her phonological system contains the “sounds”: m, p, b, t, d, k, x, g, l, f.

What to do:

  • First, encourage her to give up baby bottles and pacifiers.
  • Second, play fantasy/symbolic games and “enter” into complex roles.
  • Last, encourage her to narrate stories and help her clear up thoughts and feelings.

When to worry:

  • If her speech is incomprehensible.
  • When she doesn’t use plurals and/or verbs and/or articles and/or adjectives.
  • If she doesn’t form simple sentences.
  • When she repeats syllables or words (in sentences).

Read a relevant article here


Rinio Liberiadou

Speech therapist-Speech Pathologist

Member of the Greek Association of Speech Therapists

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