What sounds should your child be able to say?


The development of speech sounds in children usually takes time. When a child is learning, it’s natural for them to make mistakes, and every child makes predictable pronunciation errors when they are learning to talk (when you stop to think about it, these are not really ‘errors’ at all, but rather, part of a child’s natural speech and language ‘learning curve’).

Some children are slower than others when learning to make some speech sounds, so it is wise to monitor the development of your child’s speech closely. Download the free fact sheet below which will help you to to do this.

At what age should my child be able to pronounce sounds properly?

The following list shows the age at which most children can say different speech sounds:

By age:







Your child should be able to say:

p, b, m, d, h, n

all of the above and f, g, k, t, w

all of the above and kw (as in queen)

all of the above and ch, j, l, s, sh, y, bl

all of the above and r, v, br, dr, fl, fr, gl, gr, kl, kr, pl, st and tr

all of the above and z, sl, sp, sw, th

When should my child stop making sound errors?

Children’s speech sound errors should disappear as they get older.

When your child is aged 2-6, he or she may use one sound instead of another, leave out sounds, add extra sounds, or say the sound differently to the way you might expect as they are learning to talk. These “errors” are called phonological processes.

Here are some typical developing phonological processes, or speech sound errors, that you may hear your child pronouncing and the approximate age by which your child should stop making that mistake.

Sounds you may hear your child sayApproximate age at which sound error  should stop
/gar/ for car- your child may replace a voiceless sound (such  as k, t, p) preceding a vowel by a voiced sound3 years
/ret/ for red – your child may be replacing a voiced consonant (such as b, d, g) at the end of a word with a voiceless consonant (such as  k, t, p)3 years
/boa/ for boat – your child may be omitting or deleting the last voiced consonant (such as p, t, k, b, d, g, f) of a word3 years 3 months
/tar/ for car or /mime/ for mine – your child may be replacing a back sound (such as k, g)  by a front sound3 years 9 months
/sip/ for ship – your child may be replacing his /sh/ as in ‘shame’ or his /zh/ as in ‘measure’ with /y/, /s/ or /z/3 years 9 months
/pup/ for cup – your child might pronounce a word that is influenced by one of the sounds in the words3 years 9 months
/teffone/ for telephone – your child may be deleting a syllable from words of more than one syllable4 years
/ty/ for try,  /swy/ for sky /, /sake/ for snake – your child may be deleting or replacing a cluster element4 years
/wadder/ for ladder and wabbit for rabbit – your child may replace his liquids (such as r, l)  with glides (w,y)5 years
/tip/ for ship – your child may use a stopped consonant such as a p, t, b or d to replace fricative or affricates such as f,v,sh and zh)Between 3 and 5 years

It’s important to remember that every child acquires the pronunciation of sounds at their own pace.

However, if your child is aged between 3 and 5 and some of the errors mentioned above are still present when they are meant to be gone, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a speech and language pathologist.

A speech pathologist can help your child learn the appropriate motor planning required for producing speech sounds properly. This will have a big impact on your child’s later ability to learn to read and spell, so seeking help early is important for all young children who struggle with articulation.

Free Fact Sheet

Download and keep this summary of children’s speech and articulation milestones for your future reference

Need help for your child?

If you’re concerned that your child is not developing the ability to pronounce sounds properly, Kids First’s peadiatric speech pathologists can help.

Make an appointment to have your child’s speech and language checked today.

Email us or call our Brookvale centre on (02) 9938 5419 for an appointment now.

Reference: Bowen, C. Phonological Processes in Typical Speech Development

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