What are the speech and language milestones for a child ages 4 to 6 months old? Below we will review the following: key vocabulary terms when discussing speech and language milestones, milestones expected in the age ranges 4 - 6 months, and examples or clarification for each milestone.
Speech & Language Milestones: the speech, language, and hearing skills that most children (90%) will demonstrate by identified ages
Speech: how we say sounds and words - articulation, fluency, or voice
Language: the words we use and how we use them to share ideas and get what we want.
Receptive Language: the ability to understand/comprehend language (following directions, vocabulary, sentence comprehension)
Expressive Language: the ability to express self using language - by gestures, sign language, verbally, or a communication device (vocabulary, grammar)
Pragmatic Language: the use of appropriate communication in social situations
Speech and Language Milestones: 4- 6 months old:
Hearing & Understanding (Receptive Language):
Responds to facial expressions. Your child should begin to recognize and respond to facial expressions (ex: when you look at them and smile, they might respond by smiling back). You can work on this skill by going back and forth making new facial expressions (i.e. happy, surprised, confused, etc.).
Looks at objects of interest and follows objects with their eyes. Your child should be able to track different objects or toys that they are interested. You can move a ball or book and practice them turning their head and/or following with their eyes.
Reacts to toys that make sounds, like those with bells or music. Your child may show signs of excitement (ex: kicking their legs and moving their arms) when they hear a toy such as a rattle or a battery-operated toy that makes noise (ex: keyboard). It is important to note that if your child does not respondto sounds, you should contact your pediatrician to see if they are hearing correctly.
Talking (Expressive Language):
Giggles and laughs. During this age range, babies should start to laugh and giggle. You can play fun anticipatory games (i.e. tickling activities, peek-a-boo, etc.) with your child to encourage them to laugh. During the activity, it may also help to change to pitch of your voice to make it more exciting and engaging for your child.
Vocalizes during play or with objects in mouth. Your child should be vocalizing or making noises that sound like stretched out vowel sounds or humming. (i.e. "mmmm" or "aaaaa").
Vocalizes different vowel sounds—sometimes combined with a consonant—like uuuuuummm, aaaaaaagoo, or daaaaaaaaaa. By 6 months of age, your child should be producing a variety of vowel sounds.
Blows “raspberries" or blows air between their lips. You can encourage your child to blow "raspberries" by modeling it while they are looking in a mirror or looking at you. Pause for 10-20 seconds to allow your child to respond and try to blow "raspberries" themselves.
Check out our other parent resources and blogs about how to help enhance and grow your child's speech and language skills during these specific age ranges.
If you are concerned about your child's speech and language development - some of the next steps you can take include:
contacting your child's pediatrician (ask for a referral for a speech and language evaluation)
contacting your local regional center to see if your child could be assessed
contacting a local speech therapy private practice that specializes in early language development
ASHA. (n.d.). Communication milestones: Birth to 1 year. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. https://www.asha.org/public/developmental-milestones/communication-milestones-birth-to-1-year/