What to expect
at different ages

6 months +
  • Responds to different tones of voice

  • Can wave ‘bye bye’

  • Appears to recognise names of family members

  • Babbles for attention

  • Laughs and squeals

  • Enjoys games such as ‘peek-a-boo’ and ‘pat-a-cake’

  • Will turn to mum's voice across the room

  • Will put objects into mouth, hit and shake them.

12 months +

  • Knows own name

  • Understands simple commands like ‘no’, ‘clap hands’

  • First words develop (5 or more)

  • Can find a toy hidden out of sight

  • Begins to relate objects e.g. puts the spoon in the cup

  • Brushes own hair

18 months - 2½ years 
  • Will point to parts of the body and  items of clothing/objects e.g. hair, nose, ball, sock, spoon

  • Understands action words (verbs) such as ‘sit down, drink, come here, sleep’

  • Understand pronouns such as ‘ me, my, your, him’

  • Copies frequently heard 2-3 word sentences

  • Copies sounds such as cars, animals during play

  • Follows simple instructions e.g. ‘give me the cup’

  • By 2 ½ years can use 3-4 words in a sentence

  • Asks questions ‘What’s that?’

  • Names objects such as ball, sock, cup

  • Uses one pronoun – me, my, mine, you

2½ years - 3½ years

  • Understands use of objects e.g. ‘show me what you can ride’ – ‘a bike’

  • Understands describing words e.g. big, little, wet

  • Understands pronouns – he, she, they

  • Uses 4-5 words or longer in a sentence

  • Can answer ‘what, where, who’

  • Understands negatives e.g. no, not

  • Can group objects such as food, animals etc

  • Identifies colours

  • Can describe an object

  • Answers questions logically

  • Uses many pronouns e.g. I, he, she, we, they

3½ years - 5 years 
  • Answers ‘when’ questions

  • Indicates body parts such as head, knee, arm

  • Compares objects

  • Understands complex instructions e.g. put the big spoon under the table

  • Understands time concepts e.g. yesterday, tomorrow

  • Understands numbers

  • Understands and uses prepositions e.g. under, behind, next to, in front of

  • Can describe an activity e.g. getting dressed, making a sandwich

  • Responds to ‘why’ questions

  • Names members of categories e.g. name a fruit

  • Repeats complex sentences

5 years - 7 years 

  • Understands time and sequence concepts e.g. first, last

  • Uses adjectives to describe people and objects e.g. shiny, loud

  • Uses words that express quantity e.g. whole, half

  • Defines words e.g. what is a computer?

  • Can add and subtract numbers to five

  • Can retell a story with visual support

  • Uses plurals e.g. tooth-teeth, man-men

  • Understands time concepts such as Autumn, Summer

  • Indicates body parts such as wrist, heel, ankle

  • Uses words that express quantity e.g. empty, full