Speech Sound Development Milestones

Below are some guidelines about your child’s speech sound development. It is important to keep in mind that all children develop differently.

Speech Intelligibility:

Intelligibility is the percentage your child is understood by both familiar (i.e., people your child interacts with daily or weekly) and unfamiliar listeners (i.e., people your child meets for the first time or does not interact with your child often). Below are guidelines as to how much a child should be understood by an unfamiliar listener:toddler talking on phone

2 years: ~50%

3 years: ~75%

4 years: ~80-90%

5 years: ~90+%


Articulation is a fancy word for speech sound production. We use guidelines to determine whether speech sound development is on track. The mastery of sounds differs from child to child because there is a range in which acquisition of sounds is appropriate. For example, speech sound /l/ is typically mastered between ages 6-8, but a child can produce it without error at ages 4-5. Speech therapists may work on later developing sounds at an earlier age in certain situations such as when speech intelligibility is significantly affected, or the child is mature for their age with appropriate language skills. Below are guidelines as to when speech sounds are mastered in typically developing children:

2-3 years: p, b, m, n, w, h, t, d, k, g, ng (playing), y

4-5 years: f, v, s, z, sh, ch, j

6-8 years: r, l, voiced and voiceless th (this, with), zh (measure)

*All sounds should be mastered by age 8-9 years

** Remember, these are just guidelines. For an assessment of your child’s speech skills, contact a speech therapist for further information or to set up an evaluation.

When should you be concerned?

• If your child shows frustration including: refusing to repeat themselves, refusing to talk, and becoming emotional if they are no t understood

• Familiar and unfamiliar listeners continuously ask your child to repeat themselves or ask for clarification (i.e., what did you just say?)

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  1. […] An articulation disorder can make it difficult for a child to be understood by others and can impact social interactions, school participation and academics (i.e. reading, writing, phonological awareness skills). Many children make speech errors, so it’s important to consider the age range during which children develop each sound when determining if sound substitutions are age-appropriate. The child may have an articulation disorder if these errors continue past the expected age of mastery. Click here to see our blog on typical speech sound development for more information. […]

  2. […] A phonological process is a predicted and patterned speech sound error.  Speech sounds developmentally progress in your child’s speech. If a sound is too difficult to produce or developmentally inappropriate, children naturally simplify it to an easier sound, thus producing a phonological process. For more information on sound development, click here to read my blog entitled Speech Sound Developmental Milestones. […]

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