Recognizing Speech Delays in Children

Today’s post is geared towards child care providers. At Raising Arizona Preschool, we strive to hire the BEST preschool and toddler teachers out there. We want them to be trained to handle all aspects of their job. This includes recognizing possible developmental delays in the children in their care.

Recognizing Speech Delays in Children

A language or speech delay is something one of the most common developmental delays in children. There are a few different causes of speech delays in children. They can range from frequent ear infections as an infant, to a learning disability, to exposure to more than one language. The definition of a speech delay is when a child does not meet communication milestones within a few weeks of what is deemed average. Recognizing there may be an issue and treating the problem early is crucial for a child’s continued cognitive and language development.


By 2 years a child should be able to say at least 50 words. By the end of the toddler stage most children will have a vocabulary of between 100-300 words.  They should also be able to communicate their needs, and say 2 word phrases. A child at this age will be learning at least one new word a week. Children in this stage should be able to point to objects when you name them, understand the names and functions of basic household items play pretend with baby dolls or other toys and should imitate actions of those around them.


Children at this age should be able to speak in complete sentences. They should be understood at least 75% of the time, and able to state their name clearly. Parents and caregivers should be able to hold a conversation with a preschool age child. By the end stages of preschool a child should be able to identify clearly shapes, colors and some letters. They should be able to speak in clear more complex sentences and be able to understand the concept of time.

Childcare workers spend a lot of time with the children in their care and have the opportunity to recognize speech delays first. Education is key, and knowing when to mention a possible delay in language development to a parent is very important. If you need to have this conversation, mention the concerns, explain why you think there may be a delay, and then recommend contacting the child’s pediatrician. They will be able to go over a checklist with the parent and either ease the concern, or determine what the next step may be.


Speech and Language Milestone Chart

Recognizing Speech Delays

Speech Sound Development

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