Should I be concerned about my child

Having children and watching them develop can be both an amazing and terrifying experience for many parents. The joy felt when a child takes their first step could coincide with anxiety if they can’t manage as many words as some of their peers.

So when should you be concerned if your child’s first words don’t come or if their speech is difficult to understand? Some parents postpone seeking professional advice and take the ‘wait-and-see’ approach- after all we know that all children develop at different levels and hope that they will just catch up in their own time; others will turn to the internet and be bombarded with information which may make them end up feeling more confused than before.

By providing you with some clear information regarding communication milestones we hope to answer the reoccurring question “should I be concerned…?”

At this point it is important to remind you that all children do develop at slightly different rates and that that the information given is a guideline as to what we expect to see in ‘typical’ development. If your child is missing one or two skills in an age range, this does not necessarily mean that they have a significant difficulty but it may be worth you speaking to your health visitor or GP to establish whether you have reason to be concerned; they can then make onward referral to a Speech and Language Therapist if appropriate.

Understanding Speech and language
0 – 3 months Recognises parent’s voice Frequently cries, especially when unhappy or uncomfortableMakes vocal sounds e.g. ‘cooing’
3 – 6 months Shows excitement at sound of voices Babbles to selfLaughs during playMakes sounds when talked to
6 – 12 months Understands frequently used words e.g. ‘all gone’Stops and looks when hears own nameUnderstands simple instructions when accompanied by gesture and context Uses babbling to communicate with adultsUses gestures such as waving and pointing to communicateAround 12 months begins to use single words e.g. ‘dada’
12 – 15 months Understands single words in context e.g. ‘milk’Understands more words than they can sayUnderstands simple instructions e.g. ‘kiss mummy’ Says around 10 single words although these may not be clearReaches/points to something they want whilst making speech sounds
15 – 18 months Understands a wide range of single words and some two-word phrases e.g. ‘give me’Recognises and points to objects in books when askedGives named objects to familiar adults e.g. book Still babbles but uses at least 20 words  correctly, although may not be clearCopies and gestures words from adultsConstant babbling and single word use during play Uses intonation, pitch  and changing volume when ‘talking’
18 months – 2 years Understanding of single words increases rapidly during this stage: anything from 200-500 words are knownUnderstands more simple instructions e.g. ‘give mummy shoes’ Uses up to 50 wordsBegins to put two or three words togetherFrequently asks questions e.g. names of people/objects Uses speech sounds p, b, m, w
2 – 3 years Begins to understand simple concepts e.g. big/littleUnderstands phrases e.g. ‘out teddy in the box’Understands simple who, what, where questions Understands a simple story when supported with pictures Uses 300 words including descriptive language e.g. time, function, spaceLinks four or five words togetherMay stammer when thinking what to say Able to use pronouns (e.g. me, him, she), plurals and prepositions (e.g. in, on, under) Has problems saying speech sounds: l/r/w/y, f/th, s/sh/ch/dz/j
3 – 4 years Understands why questionsAware of time in relation to past, present, future (e.g. ‘Today it was sunny, yesterday it was rainy’) Uses sentences with up to six wordsUses future and past tenseMay have problems with irregular words e.g. ‘runned for ran’ Able to remember and enjoys telling long stories or singing songs Has problems saying: r, j, th, ch and sh
4 – 5 years Able to follow simple stories without picturesUnderstands instructions containing sequencing words (e.g. ‘firstafter’)Understands adjectives (e.g. soft, hard) Aware of humour, will laugh at jokes Uses well-formed sentences (e.g.  ‘I played with Ben at lunch time’) but may still display grammatical errorsEasily understood by adults and peers, with only a few speech sound immaturities: th, rFrequently asks the meanings of unfamiliar words  and may use them randomly










                              C&D Independent Speech and Language Therapy provide assessment and therapy to children in Essex who have difficulties talking, communicating and understanding language. If you have concerns regarding your child’s speech, language or communication development please contact them for a free telephone consultation on: 07510 067 442. Here is a link to their website: