When should I be concerned about my 3-year-old’s speech and language?

Although by age 3, communication abilities can vary from child to child, certain speech and language red flags can alert parents to potential problems.

By 36 months old, if your child demonstrates the warning signs below, alert your pediatrician and seek out a speech-language evaluation for your child.

  • Doesn’t follow simple directions
  • Doesn’t answer yes/no or wh- questions
  • Doesn’t communicate using basic 3-4 word sentences
  • Doesn’t play with toys or other children
  • Doesn’t engage in pretend play
  • Speech is very unclear (understood by others less than 75 percent of the time) or drools often
  • Doesn’t pronounce sounds at the beginning or end of most words
  • Shows regression in skills

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