Baby, Child, Development of children, Toddler

Language development in children up to preschool age

Language development in children up to preschool age

How do children learn to speak?

How do parents react when their child speaks the first word? They burst with pride and tell everyone around them – whether they like it or not.

Your child didn’t just start learning his future mother tongue with that first word. At this point, he or she has already learned a lot and will have to master further important steps in the years to come. Children complete rough language development around the age of six. Then they can explain tenses, different definitions of an object and abstract concepts with a large vocabulary.

Language development in children – Language is complex

The voice is almost the most important means of human communication. Through language, the child learns not only to express his feelings, but also to associate people and things in his environment with words and to use this experience. It develops a personality with the help of language, learns to act, communicate and understand the world in a complex way.

“My child said mom, dad and grandma at the age of ten months!”

The pace of language development in children varies! Sometimes parents are unsure when they compare children of the same age with their own and wonder why the other child speaks much “better” than their own. Or the other way around: it fills them with pride that their son or daughter can speak in a relaxed manner with peers. Every child goes through different phases of language development. These phases flow smoothly into one another and are difficult to squeeze into narrow patterns. Each child needs different amounts of time to go through these phases. Some more quickly than others. That is good and desirable. It becomes difficult when a child lags significantly behind the average development of other children. In this case, going to a pediatrician, speech therapist or pediatric audiologist is sometimes unavoidable. To give you as parents a rough overview of which stage of language development your child should be at, we have summarized an overview of the successive stages of your child’s language development in age groups.


stages of language development

There are different phases of language development in babies and children. Here is a brief overview:

language development in babies

Language development in infants from 0 to 6 months:

Your child’s speech development basically begins with his first cry in the delivery room. By crying, a baby not only trains its voice, but also communicates its feelings to its environment. In this way, it is already communicating. Even now, a baby recognizes that its crying is followed by a reaction from its environment. After about 12 weeks, parents can distinguish more precisely between the different types of crying in their child. From the third month of life, babies start to make other sounds besides crying. They squeak, coo or babble and make sounds like “hmm” or “grrr”. This is called the first babbling phase. The pitch and volume may also vary. When it hears a sound, it turns its head in the direction of the sound source or looks for it.

Language development in infants in the second half of the first year of life:

The baby experiments more and more with his voice. The second babbling phase begins. Parents constantly hear their child babbling, who now also uses syllable doublings, for example: lalala or nununu. The baby now takes a closer look at the speech around him. Children with a hearing impairment, like hers, cannot perceive these sounds and do not produce syllable doublings. Healthy children understand more and more words that are common in their everyday lives, such as food, diapers, or crib. At just under one year of age, they engage in long monologues in their very own slurred speech.

One year to one and a half years:

On its first birthday, the child perceives information not only by the sound of the voice, facial expressions and gestures, but already knows about 50-60 words. Now, all of a sudden, the famous first word appears. The child now learns that words have a meaning and thus reaches a milestone in language development. From now on, the vocabulary develops very quickly. He recognizes his own name and even responds to simple commands such as “Sit down” or “Bring me the car.

The child’s language development at the age of 1.5 to 2 years:

During this time, your child names many people and objects with the correct name. At least 50 words should be part of his vocabulary. Some children speak more than 200 words at this stage of language development. From now on, two-word sentences are also part of the child’s repertoire. He is only too happy to use the famous emphatic “no.” The melody of speech also develops. The child asks questions by saying one or two words interrogatively, such as “Car broken?”. Finger games are also ideal now.

Two to three years:

The child’s vocabulary increases significantly. Three- and four-word sentences show that the child’s command of the language is improving. Of course, there are still frequent grammatical errors and incorrect syntax. The familiar age of questioning begins when the child includes question words such as why, what, where, and wherefore in his communication in the second half of the third year of life. The first subordinate clauses are also introduced. By now, it can even explain relationships and facts. At this age, children form completely new word creations, for example, watering can becomes water flower and hammock becomes swinging cloth.

Language development in children from the age of 3:

This is the time when children consolidate and complete their acquired language skills. They already form complex sentences and use many subordinate clauses. They can name colors and give long explanations, while still making mistakes with complicated sentence structure. More and more pronouns are integrated into utterances. Now begins the phase in which the children repeatedly ask the question “why” in a more sophisticated way.

Language development in children aged five to six:

Depending on their age, children can now even explain abstract concepts. A healthy child can theoretically form all sounds correctly. At this age, children can retell stories and reproduce contexts logically and grammatically almost correctly. They can already count to at least ten.

Since children’s language development is divided into phases that merge into one another and progress at different rates, no rigid pattern can be established for this. However, if a child deviates significantly from the standard values, you should not shy away from a visit to the pediatrician. You, too, can support your child in each individual phase of its language development in an age-appropriate way, for example by playing finger games, singing or actively communicating with your child.


Leave a Reply