Development of speech sounds (or“phonemes”) can vary from child to child; some kids will develop sounds quicker than others, just like some kids learn to walk earlier. As a child’s oral musculature develops, more mature coordination and movement occurs and new phonemes emerge into their speech. Many times, children develop compensatory patterns which are a best attempt at producing adult sounds. These types of substitutions are expected and very common for a child at various ages. As your child gets older, we typically see these patterns resolve spontaneously and accurate sounds emerge.
Below are general guidelines for sound development:
By 3 years old Most children can produce: p,b,m,h,n,w, t, d
By 4 years old Most children can produce: k,g,d,f, v, y
By 6 years old Most children can produce: “ng,” r, l,
By 7 years old Most children can produce: s, ch, j, sh, z, th
When a child experiences difficulty developing accurate sound production, speech therapy is often recommended. Therapy is often warranted when there is a delay in use of a particular sound, a persistent compensatory pattern, or sound distortions occurring. As a parent, you are the an excellent judge of your child’s ability to speak in a variety of settings and situations. If you have concerns, a simple articulation assessment conducted by a speech-language pathologist will be instrumental in assessing your child’s articulation skills to determine if therapy is needed.