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Speech Sound Development

Development of speech sounds (or“phonemes”) can vary from child to child; some kids will develop sounds quicker than others, just like some kids learn to walk earlier. As a child’s oral musculature develops, more mature coordination and movement occurs and new phonemes emerge into their speech. Many times, children develop compensatory patterns which are a best attempt at producing adult sounds. These types of substitutions are expected and very common for a child at various ages. As your child gets older, we typically see these patterns resolve spontaneously and accurate sounds emerge.

Below are general guidelines for sound development:

By 3 years old Most children can produce: p,b,m,h,n,w, t, d

By 4 years old Most children can produce: k,g,d,f, v, y

By 6 years old Most children can produce: “ng,” r, l,

By 7 years old Most children can produce: s, ch, j, sh, z, th

When a child experiences difficulty developing accurate sound production, speech therapy is often recommended. Therapy is often warranted when there is a delay in use of a particular sound, a persistent compensatory pattern, or sound distortions occurring. As a parent, you are the an excellent judge of your child’s ability to speak in a variety of settings and situations. If you have concerns, a simple articulation assessment conducted by a speech-language pathologist will be instrumental in assessing your child’s articulation skills to determine if therapy is needed.


Gillis, J.  (2014, May).  Speech Sound Development.  Zebra Speech.
this blog post is by

Speech-language pathologist (SLP) / Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

more speech therapy articles posts (blogs) by Dr. Jasmine Urquhart Gillis