Sunday, January 13, 2013

Speech Sound Development

As Speech-Language Pathologists, we help parents determine if their child's speech sounds are developing appropriately.

Speech is a complex motor process which requires the coordination of our articulators (lips, tongue, teeth, etc.), breath, and voice to produce words and sentences that can be easily understood by others. So much happens so quickly! Often we don't think about all of the steps involved and it is easy to take this process for granted. We love the Speech Helpers ebook from Home Speech Home to help teach our students about their articulators!

We would like to outline what you should expect with your child's speech sound development. The first thing to remember is that different sounds develop at different times. For example, vowel sounds develop before consonants. You will hear these in your child's babbling :) You can use the chart below as a general guide to help you see at what age certain consonant sounds develop.
You can download a copy of the Speech Sound Development Chart on our TPT store by clicking the link below:

Charts like the one above are useful tools to use when you want to know more about your child's speech. Please keep in mind these are general guidelines. The exact age a child masters a certain sound ranges. Every child is different.. Try not to compare your child's speech to other children's. This chart serves as a quick visual tool, although it is not the only tool SLPs use to determine if a child qualifies for speech therapy. Fellow SLPs, we also like to print and laminate this chart for each teacher we work with. We find that they love this visual for their classrooms as well.

Because some sounds do not develop fully until ages 5, 6, or 7, you may hear errors in your child's speech. There are many different types of errors children can make when their speech is developing. (Errors that persist beyond age 8 are not likely to correct on their own. In an upcoming post, we will be providing tips and tricks we use to teach different sounds!).

One of the most common errors children make are sound substitutions. Examples of sound substitutions include:
    • Substituting /f/ for /th/ (child says "fumb" for thumb)
    • Substituting /w/ for /l/ (child says "wike" for like)

The Speech Sound Chart shows us that /th/ and /l/ are later developing sounds. So, if your child is 3 and says "I wove you" -  that's ok! Sometimes parents can find this frustrating to hear.  Let's think about running... If a six month-old is not running, we aren't concerned because we don't expect babies to be able to run. There is a process (for the muscle's strength and coordination to develop) and we expect certain milestones to come first (crawling, standing, walking). The same is true for articulation. We expect certain skills and sounds to develop before others. The articulators we use to produce /th and l/ can still be developing. 

Other common substitutions include:
    • Substituting /p/ for /f/ (child says "pish" for fish)
    • Substituting /t/ for /k/ (child says "tow" for cow)

The chart shows you these sounds develop by age 4. So if your child is 4 and still having difficulty with the /f and k/ sounds, they may be a good candidate for speech therapy. 

Mommy Speech Therapy

So what can you do if you are concerned about your child's speech? Check out our upcoming post about resources available for parents. We will also be talking about the process in which we teach sounds. We take it one step at a time.. first targeting a sound in isolation, then in words (at the beginning, middle and end or words), then in phrases and sentences, and finally in conversation. If you would like to know more about this process, check out Mommy Speech Therapy's handout Process of Articulation Therapy.

We hope you found this chart and information helpful! Please let us know if you have specific questions about  your child's speech development. We are happy to help!

~Kristine and Krysta
You can download a copy of the Speech Sound Development Chart on our TPT store by clicking the link below:

Speech Sound Chart


  1. Hi, I am Lily. I really like your blog it's got quite a lot to it and it looks amazing.
    Heres a link to my blog
    Keep on blogging!

  2. Thank you! We are happy you find it helpful! We will defintely check your out!

  3. I wanted to let you know I just linked this page with my BHSM post...And I keep forgetting to tell you guys that I use the speech sound development chart at almost ALL of my team meetings (definitely all in which articulation is a concern). It's a great visual for parents! Love it!

  4. Thank you Carrie! We are so glad you are able to share it with others! We appreciate the link up too!

  5. REALLY love this!! I work in a Catholic preschool/Kdg. and this is great to give to teachers and parents to understand the process and help their child through all the steps!!! THANK YOU!