Return to Child Speech-Language Milestones – the Stages of Development

Speech and Language Developmental Milestones 30 – 36 months


Milestones 30 – 36 months

This is a continuation of the speech and language developmental milestones resource from 30 to 36 months (between 2.5 to 3 years).

The rate at which children reach their speech and language development milestones can vary depending on the child and the environment that surrounds them. Some children will develop certain speech and language skills quicker than others. However, despite a bit of difference between children, we expect most children to develop certain skills within a certain time-frame. You will see that many skills mentioned in the content below may be repeated over several age groups as children are all different and some children take longer to develop these abilities. This information sheet is just a general guideline, and many experts vary considerably on what they believe to be the normal stages of development.
To try and make this information easier to read we have created a made-up child called Bill. Bill was lucky, he had a childhood free of any illness or accidents and he had pro-active parents who played with him and gave him lots of quality one-to-one attention.


Speech and Auditory Awareness Milestones

30 – 36 months

Bill’s speech continues to develop and he now has m n p b t d w ng k g h y in his sound inventory and is starting to use f s, although these sounds may still be stopped (replaced with a plosive sound e.g. “sun” becomes “tun”). Other common substitutions will be to replace th with f and r with w. Some sound combinations are still difficult for him including clusters (st pl tr etc) and he will often just shorten these to 1 sound, and medial sounds may still occasionally be omitted . His speech is now so clear that strangers understand him 75% of the time. He is also using more stress and intonation correctly in his words, although he may still omit some parts of less stressed speech. Bill will now listen more from a distance and his auditory memory can hold 2-3 items in different linguistic contexts.


Expressive Language and Semantics (content) Milestones

30 – 36 months

Bill is now using around 450 words and combining nouns, verbs, and adjectives “big / little” in 3 word sentences. He regularly uses prepositions “in / on / under”, personal pronouns “you / me / he / she / they / we” and knows gender vocabulary. Bill is also beginning to form plurals and putting -ing endings on verbs. Now that Bill can put more words together he is asking more questions. He is able to recite common nursery rhymes, name 3 or more colours and can give his first and last name.


Social use of Language (use and Pragmatics) Milestones

30 – 36 months

Verbal language is now Bill’s primary means of expression with speech becoming a social tool. Bill will often ask permission before he does things. Bill can also express how he feels about a situation. He is now able to have 2 – 3 exchanges with a listener and he is keen to talk about immediate experiences, as well as things that have happened before. At play is more keen to share objects and toys generally, but he may also talk to himself during play.


Receptive Language (comprehension, perceiving and understanding) and Cognition Milestones

30 – 36 months

Bill is comprehending commands at a 3-word level and language of more complexity. He is also able to indentify objects by use, e.g. “Which one do we drink out of? Sleep in? Sit on?”. He understands the concept of “one” and “one more” and matches colours and shapes, and objects to pictures. As Bill’s knowledge of concepts are developing he is learning how to sort, sequence (completes 3 piece interlocking puzzle), categorize and attempting simple counting. Bill’s awareness of time is also developing and he understands today, yesterday, tomorrow.


Morphology and Syntax (structure) Milestones

30 – 36 months

Bill is now using three word sentences (and occasionally 4-word) and his understanding of more complex sentences continues to develop e.g. he understands instructions involving pronouns, e.g. “I want a cup.” “Show me my cup,” “your cup,” “mine”. He asks simple questions “What doing?” as well as answering “Who,” “What”, “Where” and “Why” questions. Bill is also beginning to form plurals and putting -ing endings on verbs. Bill is also using: Negation – :no / don’t”. Pronouns – “he/ she / they / we / you / me”. Some plurals. Possessives – “mine, yours, mummy’s hat”. More negatives – “not / none / nobody”. Beginning to use conjunctions – “and / because”.


Gross and Fine Motor Skills Milestones

30 – 36 months

Bill can now walk up the stairs on alternate feet and is becoming quite an agile climber. He can run and walk on tiptoe, and run and avoid objects. His fine motor skills are also developing further and he can now take off and put on most of his clothes, but still has a few problems with buttons. At kindergarten he is now copying a cross and drawing a body with head and one other body part. He is also cutting with scissors.



Go to our Milestones Resources section for Downloadable facts-sheets about child speech and language development milestones. Click Here


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