Development of Speech
The normal development of speech sound acquisition for children is as follows:
0-9 months: uses a range of sounds of varying patterns including vowel sounds in cooing, babbling and expressing enjoyment.
9-18 months: babies of this age will use a range of phonological processes and phonemes which will vary in babble and first words.
18 months – 24 months: able to use m, p, b, w, t, d, n.
24months-30 months: may be able to use ng, k, g and h.
30 months - 36 months: able to use f, s, y, ng, k, g, h and possibly l.
36 months -42 months: able to use l, possibly ch and sh.
48 months – 54 months: able to use ch, sh, z, v, j and possibly r.
60 months or later: able to use r, th (thumb), th (this) and zh (measure).
Speech processes used when acquiring speech sounds
Whilst acquiring these speech sounds children will use a variety of phonological processes, which simplify sounds they may find harder to use and produce.
Normal speech processes which are used include:
- Consonant harmony
- Context sensitive voicing
- Word final devoicing
- Final consonant deletion
- Cluster reduction
Consonant harmony is where a word is affected by one sound within that word e.g. 'dog' may be pronounced 'gog', the 'g' in this example caused the 'd' to be also replaced by a 'g'. This process usually disappears by 2 years of age.
Context sensitive voicing
Context sensitive voicing is where a voiceless sound is replaced by a voiced sound e.g. the 'p' in 'pig' is pronounced 'big'. This process should normally stop being used at 3 years of age.
Word final devoicing
Word final devoicing is where a voiced sound at the end of a word is replaced by a voiceless sound e.g. the 'g' in 'dog' may be replaced by a 'k' and pronounced 'dok'. This process will usually disappear by the age of 3.
Final consonant deletion
Final consonant deletion is where a final sound of a word is deleted e.g. 'dog' may be pronounced 'do'. This process usually disappears by the age of 3.
Fronting is where the sounds that are produced at the back of your mouth e.g. 'k' and 'g' are replaced with sounds produced at the front of your mouth e.g. 't' and 'd'. So 'dog' may become 'dot'. This process usually disappears at the age of 3 and half years.
Cluster reduction is where consonant clusters (where two or three consonants appear in a sequence) are reduced e.g. 'drop' may be reduced to 'dop', 'spider' to 'pider'. This process usually disappears by the age of 4 years.
Stopping is where certain consonants known as fricatives and affricates (f,s,v,z,sh,zh,th,h,ch or j) are replaced by stop consonants (p,t,b,d,k or g) for example 'sunny' may be pronounced as 'tunny'. This process usually stops being used between the ages of 3 and 4 and a half years depending on the sound being stopped.
Gliding is where liquid sounds 'l and r' are replaced by 'w or y'. For example 'red' may be pronounced 'wed'. This is one of the last processes to be used and usually stops being used by the age 5.
When Age Simplification Example
When should I be concerned about my child's speech?
If you have any concerns at any stage of your child's speech or language development you should always seek advice from a speech and language therapist. The above information acts as a guide only to a child's development of speech and this may vary from child to child. If your child is failing to follow the normal schedule of speech development, or is using processes longer than they should be, you should seek advice from a speech and language therapist as your child may have an articulation disorder or a speech delay or disorder. Find out more about speech sound disorders.
Specific red flags to be aware of, and when you should seek advice from a speech and language therapist include:
- If your child is difficult to understand at the age of 3 and a half.
- If your child does not babble at 6 months e.g. 'ba-ba-ba'.
- If your child has a persistent stutter.
- If your child uses phonological processes for a longer period than they should.
- If your child has distorted vowel sounds.
- If your child uses non-English sounds.
How can I arrange a speech and language therapy appointment for my child?
If you have any concerns regarding your child's speech and language development and would like to make an appointment with one of our speech and language therapists, please email email@example.com or call 0330 0885 643.
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