Children learn to say certain sounds at different ages. Typically, the sounds that are easier to say are learnt earlier than others.
The early sounds we would expect a child to be able to pronounce are p, b, m, t, d, n.
As children get older, they then learn the sounds that are harder to say… For example:
By 3 years of age, they should have learnt to say k, g, w, y and f.
By 4 years of age, they should have the sounds s, sh, j, ch, v.
By school age, the only sound that should be challenging for your child to say is ‘th.’
As children are learning how to pronounce sounds correctly, their speech may be difficult to understand. You may notice they substitute one sound for another (such as ‘tat’ for cat’), they may leave off sounds (such as ‘poon’ for ‘spoon’) or shorten some words (such as ‘puter’ for ‘computer’). Children should be understood by people familiar to them by 3 years of age. By age 4, that they should then be easily understood by unfamiliar people.
So when should you worry about your child’s pronunciation?
If you notice your child is having difficulties pronouncing sounds expected of their age, or are aged 3-4 and are not easily understood. It is highly recommended you seek help from a speech pathologist sooner, rather than later. Evidence suggests that early intervention for speech pronunciation leads to better outcomes for children.
Eastside Speech provide private one on one sessions of Speech Therapy for Toddlers and Preschoolers. Get in touch with one of our Speech Pathologists today on 02 9313 8980.
Bernhardt, B. and Major, E. (2010), Speech, language and literacy skills 3 years later: a follow‐up study of early phonological and metaphonological intervention. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 40: 1-27. doi:10.1080/13682820410001686004
McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. (2018). Children’s consonant acquisition in 27 languages: A cross-linguistic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0100.