Learning how to talk isn't just about words -- giggling, babbling and playing count too.

All kids develop differently. Below is a list of milestones that you can use as a guide. If you are worried that your child isn't communicating in expected ways, contact your family doctor, a speech pathologist or your province's preschool speech and language program. Additionally, you migh also want to look into making an appointment to have a hearing screening for your child.

By six months your baby should:

  • Laugh and smile
  • Turn towards sounds and startle at loud noises
  • Watch your face when your are talking
  • Imitate sounds like "bah"

By nine months your baby should:

  • Babble and imitate sounds
  • Understand her name
  • Understand the word "no"
  • Play peek-a-boo
  • Gesture

By 12 months your baby should:

  • Speak 3-5 words
  • Look at things you point at
  • Show you toys and books
  • Use gestures, like waving 'bye-bye'
  • Follow simple directions
  • Make lots of sounds

By 18 months your baby should:

  • Speak at least 20 words
  • Point to body parts
  • Answer simple questions
  • Point with a finger
  • Play pretend

By 24 months your baby should:

  • Speak at least 100 words
  • Join 2-3 words to form a sentence, like "want juice"
  • Pretend to read books
  • Know "me" and "mine"

By 30 months your baby should:

  • Speak at least 350 words
  • Have simple conversations with family members or friends
  • Speak in simple sentences, like "pick up mommy"
  • Follow directions
  • Answer simple questions
  • Add endings to words like 'ing' or 's'
  • Know how to take turns

By three years your child should:

  • Be understood by you and members of the family
  • Speak in sentences of at least 6 words
  • Tell stories
  • Talk about the past
  • Answer more complex questions, like "where did you go today?"
  • Ask questions

By four years (junior kindergarten) your child should:

  • Be understood by most strangers (may still have trouble with L, R, sh and th)
  • Match letters with their sound
  • Tell stories with a beginning, middle and end
  • Follow directions with several steps
  • Speak like a little adult

Do not panic if your child still does not pronounce 'sh', 'r', 'l', and 'th' sounds. Those are the last sounds to develop and some kids don't master them until they are seven or eight. If you're worried there might be a problem, we have a list of common problems and tips on what to do.