Young children are notoriously fast learners. As early as 7 months, children begin to put sounds together and mimic Mom and Dad's language to express themselves and create meaning. However, not all children develop at the same pace - some children don't begin speaking until they're 18 months old. It's not always easy to determine whether your child is on a normal track to speech development, or if there may be something hindering their ability to communicate.
When children do begin putting sounds together and creating words, most will make mistakes. Typical speech errors can include leaving out a sound in a word beginning with two consonants (saying "neakers" instead of "sneakers") or shortening multisyllabic words (from "banana" to "nana"). However, children usually achieve mastery of most speech sounds by age 6 and generally by age 3 most people should be able to understand most of what your child is saying (asha.org).
If you think that your child might be behind in their speech and language development, you're not alone. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 1 in 12 children have had a speech or communication disorder during the past 12 months. If you're wondering "Does my child need speech therapy?" then it might be time to start looking into what disorders speech pathologists treat and what some typical warning signs of speech and language disorders look like.