The developmental trajectory of language lateralisation over the preschool years is unclear. We explored the relationship between lateralisation of cerebral blood flow velocity response to object naming and cognitive performance in children aged 1-5. years. Functional transcranial Doppler ultrasound was used to record blood flow velocity bilaterally from middle cerebral arteries during a naming task in 58 children (59% male). At group level, the Lateralisation Index (LI) revealed a greater relative increase in cerebral blood flow velocity within the left as compared to right middle cerebral artery. After controlling for maternal IQ, left-lateralised children displayed lower expressive language scores compared to right- and bi-lateralised children, and reduced variability in LI. Supporting this, greater variability in lateralised response, rather than mean response, was indicative of greater expressive language ability. Findings suggest that a delayed establishment of language specialisation is associated with better language ability in the preschool years.