What Parents Should Know About Child Language Development Milestones

child language development milestones

A child doesn’t just start speaking all of a sudden. There are stages of language development each child passes through, and it is imperative that parents know these milestones. Knowing will help them recognize when the child is at a stage, and when the child is supposed to have moved to the next stage. We thereby discuss the stages, and what parents should know about child language development milestones.

Prelinguistic Stage

A person sitting at a table in front of a window

During this stage, the child develops gestures, starts making eye contacts, and makes repartee to sounds heard. The child also coo, cry, and babble during this milestone. This stage is called the pre speech stage. It happens during the child’s first year. Sounds like “bababa” are made in the pre speech stage.

One-Word Sentence Stage

A man riding a bicycle on a road

This stage marks the milestone when the baby says its first word. The stage is otherwise called the holophrase stage. It happens when the child clocks 9 months through to 13 months. The child only utters one word at a time. The child supports the word with the context in which it was said, and also gives gestures and nonverbal cues to make the meaning clear.

An example is a child looking at a ball far-away and keeps saying “ball”. This can be interpreted as the child asking for the ball to be brought to the child. A child may also say “dada” or “mama” which may be a call for the father or mother.

Two-Word Sentence Stage

This stage has the child combining a noun or a verb with a modifier in each sentence. The child reaches this stage at around 18 months. The two-word sentence combinations come as interrogative, negative, imperative or declarative. Like the one-word sentence stage, the child supplements each sentence with nonverbal communication, especially gestures.

Examples may be the child saying “why egg” which is interrogative, “box big” which is declarative, “no toy” which is imperative and other two-word sentences in the same frame as the examples.

Multiple-Word Sentence Stage

When the child reaches the age two to 6 months after, this stage is reached. The child starts constructing sentences using morphemes, prefixes and suffixes, to change tenses and meanings. The formed sentences will also have clear subjects and predicates. However, the sentences may not yet follow correct grammatical rules.

Examples include: “box is big”, “I don’t want toy”, “I want egg”.

You should note that grammatical errors made at this stage reflect the child’s understanding of the use of grammatical rules. You should also note that some children reach these language development stages faster than the others. It also is a good reason to expose your child to quality language experience.

Complex Grammatical Structures Stage

Between two and half years to three years of age, the child reaches this stage. Complex grammatical structures are formulated, with relevant conjunctions and prepositions used.

Adult-Like Grammatical Structures Stage

This final stage is reached around five to six years of age. Grammatical structures made are complex with clear distinctions.


There are six stages of language development each child passes through on their journey to speaking. Each stage comes with varying characteristics and age range. We therefore discuss what parents should know about child language development milestones.

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