Communicative Development Inventories (CDIs, parent-completed language development checklists) are a helpful tool to assess language in children who are unused to interaction with unfamiliar adults. Generally, CDIs are completed in written form, but in developing country settings parents may have insufficient literacy to complete them alone. We designed CDIs to assess language development in children aged 0;8 to 2;4 in two languages used in Coastal communities in Kenya. Measures of vocabulary, gestures, and grammatical constructions were developed using both interviews with parents from varying backgrounds, and vocabulary as well as grammatical constructions from recordings of children's spontaneous speech. The CDIs were then administered in interview format to over 300 families. Reliability and validity ranged from acceptable to excellent, supporting the use of CDIs when direct language testing is impractical, even when children have multiple caregivers and where respondents have low literacy levels.