When Do Children Develop Certain Speech Sounds?

Friday, August 28th, 2020

By: Natalie Day, MS, CCC-SLP

As children develop, so does their speech! It takes time for all speech sounds to be produced correctly, so it’s normal for some sounds to not be produced correctly in young children. But when should we expect sounds to develop? New research is available to guide our decision making about the development of speech sounds!

According to a compilation of 15 studies on English speech sound acquisition, the average child will master each sound by the ages noted below:

  • 2-3 years of age- p, b, m, d, n, h, t, k, g, w, ng, f, y
  • 4 years of age- l, j, ch, s, v, sh, z
  • 5 years of age- r, zh, th (voiced)
  • 6 years of age- th (voiceless)

Things to take away:

  • Most children correctly produce the majority of consonants by the time they are 5 years old.
  • Children generally develop speech sounds in the same order.
  • Variation between individual children is expected; not all children will develop speech sounds according to this timeline. Some may be in a different order or some may be earlier or later than what is noted here.