Speech Sound Production Developmental Timeline

The biggest fear as a parent is wondering if your child’s speech sound production is developing as normally as their peers. The problem is, most parents aren’t also childcare professionals. To an untrained eye, if a child is still mixing up “th” sounds at the beginning and ends of words when they enter the second grade, it may seem like they’re behind, but in actuality they’re not.

When it comes to deciphering if your child is on a normal level or not, its best to remember every child develops at their own speed. While some children may master one age-appropriate sound early, others may master the same sound at a slightly later point. It’s best to evaluate speech patterns only up to your child’s current age.

Speech Sound Production Development

So with that in mind, let’s talk about speech sound development in children. Or in other words, let’s talk about when your child should be saying what sounds. It’s a lot later than you’re thinking!

Newborn to six months

By your baby’s half birthday, they should be making cooing noises such as “ooh”, “eee”, and “ah”. Your baby should also be recognizing the sounds of voices by turning their head towards other people speaking and offering eye contact to the source of the noises.

Six months to a year

The next stage of speech sound production is when your baby will begin babbling and repeating noises. They may even make their first words at this stage (mama, dada, nana). This stage of their development is important for continued strengthening of the oral muscles and teaching the child how to string sounds together.

One to three years

At this point, your child should be able to pronounce vowels /a, o, e, u/ and the following consonants /p/, /b/, /m/, /n/, /t/, /d/. In an effort to be understood, your child will replace letters he cannot pronounce with letters he can. While this stage can be frustrating for you, it can be even more frustrating for your child because of the developmental limitations and not being understood.

Three to four years

Your child should be capable of pronouncing /k/, /g/, /f/, /s/, /y/, /h/ in addition to the sounds in the previous stage. Common speech mistakes at this age are dropping non-stressed syllables (e.g. “elephant” becomes “ephant”), letting one sound influence the whole word (e.g. “dog” becomes “gog”), and simplifying consonant clusters (e.g. “clown” becomes “cown”). Your child may replace the /l/ and /r/ sound with /w/ and /y/. The sound ‘th’ may be replaced with /f/ and /v/. At this stage, it is okay if people who don’t know the child have an issue understanding them.

Four to five years

Your child will add the sounds ‘sh’, ‘ch’, ‘j’, /z/, /l/, /v/. Your child will improve their pronunciation of non-stressed syllables and cease letting one sound influence the whole world, but other things may persist. They may replace /l/ and /r/ sounds with /w/ and ‘y’, and they may still replace the ‘th’ sounds with /f/ and /v/.

Five to seven years

At this point, most people should be able to understand what your child is saying, however, there still may be some lingering speech immaturities, such as still replacing /l/ and /r/ sounds with /w/ and ‘y’, and issues pronouncing the ‘th’ sound.

Seven years to eight years

In this stage, the child should be able to say all speech sounds in words with no noticeable errors

If your child misses any of these stages, it’s best to consider speech sound therapy. Your child is never too early or too late for therapy services, and speech therapy services will assist your child in reaching important developmental milestones for verbal communication.

Speech Sound Production Teletherapy Services

Does the idea of therapy sound daunting? It shouldn’t, because there are more options for therapy now. If your schedule has constraints be it travel times or accessibility, you can utilize teletherapy services, or virtual interactive speech therapy, to make sure your child stays on track with their speech sound production and development.

Book a free consultation with us here!

1 Comment

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