Children's first-language perception base and the operative strategies of their perceptual processes take shape gradually from age one onwards. A large amount of research deals with the analysis of children's speech processing; however, this is the first comprehensive study of the speech perception processes of Hungarian two- and three-year-olds (based on 3360 data of 52 children, using seven subtests of the GMP diagnostic procedure). The goal of the present study was to characterize the organization of speech decoding processes, the interrelations of speech perception and comprehension, as well as the strategies children use in them. The analysis proved the existence of a strong top-down decoding process that is entirely different from adults' processes. There were no significant differences across age groups but significant differences were found depending on the individual decoding processes. Children's speech perception shows enormous individual variation. The results are important also in the practice of speech therapy.