Often times I have heard parents report “My child isn’t saying his /s/ sound yet” or “We noticed he wasn’t using the ‘K’ sound at four years old, but now he’s seven years old and still not using it.”

The problem is not all parents know the milestones for speech sound development or what constitutes speech delay. They only see what other children are doing or maybe what older siblings were able to say or do at the same age. It’s important to remember that not all children develop their skills at the same rate. However, there are certain milestones that should be reached at certain ages. Having awareness about which speech sounds should be developed by what age will help parents to be able to spot potential language or communication delays.

If you’re wondering about the sounds your child is or is not using then these tips will help you. If you’re not sure, it’s always best to consult with your paediatrician or family doctor, or consult a speech-language pathologist (S-LP).

These are the following speech sounds that should be developed by certain ages:

Up to 3 years of age: /p/, /b/, /m/, /t/, /d/, /n/, /h/, /w/, vowels
Between 3 and 3 ½ years of age: /k/, /g/, /f/, /s/, /y/, s-blends (e.g., /sp/, /sl/, /st/), and “ing”
Between 3 ½ and 4 years of age: /l/ and “sh”
Between 4 and 5 years of age: /j/, l-blends (e.g., /fl/ and /bl/) and “ch”
Over 5 years of age:  /v/, /r/, “th”, “sh” and r-blends (e.g., /br/ and /tr/)

It’s important to remember that the development of speech sounds are guidelines. If your child does not fit in with these age-range milestones, or you are unsure about how to interpret the guidelines, you could consider contacting an S-LP. Through a series of tests, she will be able to assess your child’s speech and let you know if therapy is needed.


Written by:

Bhavi Sirpal,

M.Cl.Sc., S-LP, Reg. CASLPO