Are you worried that your 2 year old child isn’t talking? Does your 4-year old only say single words instead of complete sentences? Are you afraid that your child might have a developmental delay?

All children develop speech and language skills at their own pace. Diagnosing developmental and speech delays in children isn’t always easy since many catch up to their peers by the time they are ready for preschool.

Speech language pathologists and pediatricians refer to milestone checklists in speech and language developments for 2, 3 and 4 year olds. Comparison with a standardized checklist helps the professionals as well as the parents understand the type and possible causes of their child’s speech delay.

If you are worried about the rate of speech and language development of your child and are wondering if your child is a late-talker, you can refer to this exhaustive checklist of speech and language milestones.

2-year Old Speech Checklist

What should a 2-year old child be able to do? Let’s find out.

Talking Skills

  1. The child may say the names of their favorite cartoons, celebrity, or game characters.
  2. Children may know and say the names of different body parts like nose, ear, eye, mouth, feet, and hands.
  3. A 2-year old should be able to form short sentences with 2 to 4 words.
  4. They can ask simple questions like “who’s that?” and “where’s daddy?”
  5. They can use words that contain b, h, m, p, and w.

Comprehension And Cognition

  1. A child can point to photos, picture cards, or things when you mention them by name.
  2. They are also able to follow simple 1-part instructions.
  3. They are able to answer simple questions like “who’s that,” and “where’s mommy”
  4. They show eagerness in listening to stories, rhymes, and songs.

By their second birthday, a child typically copies adults and other children. They are happy and excited to interact with other children and begin showing interest in including other children in their games.

A 2-year old reaches developmental milestones like sorting things according to shapes and colors. They play make-believe games and indulge in fantasies. They are also able to learn and repeat new words after hearing a conversation between adults.

How Can You Help If Your 2-year Old Doesn't Talk?

  1. Narrate what you are doing, and where you are going. Use simple sentences. For example, you can say “I see kitty. Kitty is white. Kitty says meow. Kitty drinks milk”
  2. Always use small words and short sentences that your child can mimic. Be sure to use correct grammar.
  3. Try to add words to whatever your child says. For example, if your child says “dog”, try to say, “yes. That’s a big dog. The dog is black”
  4. Try to read to your child every day before naptime and bedtime. Books with large photos or illustrations and fewer words on each page capture a child’s attention.
  5. Use picture cards and ask your child to name the familiar ones. It may be difficult at first. In that case, name the photos/pictures for them. Soon, they will begin to name the pictures all by themselves.

If your child has crossed their second birthday, and yet they have not reached many of the speech, comprehension, and cognition milestones, you should consult a pediatrician, and speech-language pathologist immediately.

3-year Old Speech Checklist

What should your 3-year old child be able to do?

If you observe your 3 year old not talking much, you can refer to the following speech checklist.

Talking Skills of a 3-year Old Child

  1. A 3-year old child can say their own name and age.
  2. They can name their friends.
  3. They can use the plural of common words like cats, dogs, cars, and shoes.
  4. They can name familiar things including things in their bedroom, the children’s park, and the classroom.
  5. They can name things that are not in their sight.
  6. They can use two to three words to ask for things.
  7. They can use words with d, g, f, k, n, and t in them.
  8. Even strangers can understand around 50% of their speech on most occasions.

Comprehension And Cognition Skills

  1. A 3-year old is able to understand and use pronouns like “I,” “my,” “his,” “her” and “you”.
  2. They can follow 2 and 3 step instructions.
  3. They can continue a conversation using 2 or 3 sentences.
  4. They understand simple prepositions like “on,” “in,” and “under”.

A 3-year old without any developmental delays can play with toys that have levers, buttons, and moving parts. They can also solve small puzzles with 4 to 6 pieces, play with building blocks and flip through a book. They may even be able to turn door handles and screw/unscrew jar lids.

The neurotypical and healthy 3 year old toddler tries to copy the adults and their friends. They show affection and empathy for their friends by hugging them or pecking them on their cheeks. They are able to participate in group activities with children their age and take turns to play games.

What Should Parents Do If Their 3-year Old Isn’t Talking Much?

  1. Speak clearly around them. Use short and crisp sentences.
  2. Repeat after your child and add to their words. If your child says, “tasty candy”, you can say, “yes. The candy is tasty. Do you want to give daddy some candy?”
  3. Ask your 3-year old to repeat themselves if you don’t understand what they are saying. You can say something like, “Yes. You want the toy. Can you tell me which one you want?”
  4. Talk about objects around you, colors, shapes, and family members. It is one effective way of teaching kids the names of things and people around them.
  5. Give more than one choice to your child. For example, instead of asking if they want juice, you can ask them “do you want juice or milk?”
  6. Play simple interactive games that involve naming body parts.
  7. Sing fun songs and nursery rhymes with your child.

If your 3-year old isn’t talking much and not showing the behaviors discussed in the above section, it is time to talk to a specialist who can diagnose if your child is a late-talker

4-year Old Speech Checklist

What should your 4-year-old child be able to do? Let’s look at the speech checklist.

Talking Skills

  1. They are able to name their favorite toys, games, books, and movies.
  2. A 4-year old knows basic grammar and can use “he,” “she,” and “they” correctly.
  3. They can sing a song or recite a short poem from memory such as, “Wheels on the Bus” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars”.
  4. They are able to say their first and last name.
  5. They can name colors, numbers, and some shapes.
  6. They can answer “who, where and what” type of questions.
  7. A 4-year-old child should be able to make 4-word sentences. Although they may make mistakes sometimes.
  8. They can narrate the events of the day in simple sentences.
  9. Some 4-year olds can tell stories too.

Comprehension And Cognition

  1. A 4-year old should respond when you call their name from another part of the house.
  2. They should be able to understand the names of some colors and shapes.
  3. They are also able to understand names for family members like brother, sister, grandma, and grandpa.

Apart from these speech and language milestones, children can draw complex shapes, use scissors, and play board games appropriate for their age. They can play catch, and hop up on one leg.

By their fourth birthday, a child is able to enjoy new activities and become more creative with make-believe play. They also show more interest in playing with other children than by themselves.

What Can You Do To Help Your 4-year-old Child’s Speech And Language?

  1. Play simple sorting games with your child using photos and picture cutouts. Take photos of fruits, animals, birds, and shapes. Ask them to find photos that are similar. They might need some guidance in the beginning, but soon they should be able to catch up.
  2. Read and sing to your 4-year old kid. Talk about what you are doing, where you are going, and what you are eating. It is an effective way to teach them new words.
  3. Read simple stories from picture books. Talk about the characters and encourage your child to retell the story.
  4. Look at family photos and ask simple questions like “where’s grandma” or “who’s that”.
  5. If they have an iPad, encourage them to play games that require matching, or identifying photos of everyday objects, colors, and shapes.

If your 4-year old isn't talking much and isn’t engaging in the activities mentioned in the above section, you should consult a speech-language pathologist and pediatrician. These can be signs of developmental delays in children.