When your child talks they use a combination of tongue and lip movements to make sounds. For example, when your child says a simple word like “bus”, there is actually a complex pattern of movement starting with the lips coming together to make an exploding “b”, moving through an open mouth vowel “u” and then finishing with the tip of their tongue raised to make a long “s”.
Speech sound development will vary between individual children and there is a range of normal development. There is a predictable pattern of sound development with early, middle and late developing sounds. There are expected sounds and errors at different ages. The following Speech Sound Development Chart can be used as a guide for sounds to expect at different ages.
To support your child’s development of speech sounds:
- Talk with your child when playing and reading books so they can hear the correct sounds.
- Get face to face with your child so that they can see your tongue and lips move as you talk.
- Repeat back any words/sounds that your child has difficulty with as part of your natural conversation.
- Let your child hear the correct production. They do not have to repeat the word or fix the error.
- Arrange a hearing test, especially if your child has a history of ear infections.
As a parent, you may consider seeking advice from a speech pathologist if:
- Your child’s speech is difficult to understand. You may have to ask them to repeat often or you may need to interpret what they say for friends and family. As a general guide, by 3 years of age you should understand 80% of your child’s talking.
- You notice errors with sounds that persist beyond the ages in the Speech Sound Development Chart.