Skip to content

Health & Parenting

Select An Article

Recognizing Developmental Delays in Your Child: Ages 3 to 5

Font Size

Every child develops at his or her own pace, and the range of normal is quite wide. It is helpful, though, to be able to recognize signs of potential developmental delays.

Fewer than half of all children with developmental delays are identified before starting school. If you wonder whether your child is experiencing a delay in emotional, mental, or physical growth, don't wait to find out. Talk to your child's doctor right away. Early intervention is the best way to help him or her make progress.

What Are Developmental Delays in Children?

There are many different types of developmental delays in children. They might have problems in any of the following areas:

  • Language or speech
  • Movement, or motor skills
  • Emotional and social skills
  • Thinking, or cognitive skills

Language and Speech Delays in Children

Language and speech problems are the most common type of developmental delay. Speech refers to verbal expression, including the way words are formed. Language is a broader system of expressing and receiving information and includes being able to understand directions.

Possible causes. A number of problems may cause language and speech delays, including:

Types of treatment. If you or child's doctor suspects a developmental delay, seek an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist. This specialist may use speech therapy with your child. The specialist or doctor may also suggest that you:

  • Communicate more with your child; talk, sing, encourage repetition
  • Read daily to your child
  • Reinforce speech and language throughout the day
  • Get treatment for middle ear infections

Warning signs of speech or language delays

Contact your child's doctor if your child has any of these signs at these ages. In addition to these red flags, watch for any loss of skills already learned.

By 3 years, your child

  • Cannot talk in short phrases

By 4 years, your child

  • Doesn't use sentences of more than three words
  • Uses "me" and "you" incorrectly

By 5 years, your child

  • Has trouble understanding two-part commands with prepositions ("under" or "on")
  • Cannot give his or her first and last name
  • Doesn't use plurals or past tense the right way
  • Does not talk about daily activities

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd