Is It Normal For My Child Not To Be Able To Say Some Sounds?

Child Speech Development

As a parent, you likely know that all children develop differently. Some can crawl earlier than others, some start walking later, and some come up with their own way of getting around that suits them best. And that’s just the very tip of the developmental iceberg! However, even knowing this on a conscious level might not help calm your concerns when it comes to your own child.

It’s easy to notice when you track their speech development that they may be behind or ahead of their peers in certain areas, and noticing where they differ can make parents concerned. If you’ve noticed that your child isn’t able to say a certain sound that their same-age peers can, read on to find out if— and when— you should do something to help.

This blog explores speech development, the ages children typically are able to pronounce certain sounds, and when it may be time to consider paediatric speech therapy. For further information or personalised advice, contact our knowledgeable and helpful team at Chatterbox today.

Speech Development In Children

As a general overview: Yes, it is considered ‘normal’ for children not to be able to pronounce certain sounds that a letter or a combination of letters make. As all children develop differently, you may find that your children differ from each other in their developmental milestones. For example, although your eldest could say certain sounds at a particular age, your youngest may not be able to make the same sound at the same age.

Many young children have some difficulties with speech, and this can be completely normal. However, some speech difficulties can be a sign of a speech disorder.

What Sounds Should My Child Be Able To Make At Which Age?

Typically, most children follow a common language development pattern. This includes learning the ability to pronounce certain sounds at particular ages as they gain further skills. This includes skills such as using their lips, tongue, and other parts of their mouths to make sounds. As children gain better control in these areas, their speech will generally become clearer over time.

Most children should be able to say the following sounds at these ages:

  • Age 3 years: b, p, m, n, h, d, k, g, t, w, f, y, ng
  • Age 4 to 5 years: j, s, sh, zh, ch, tw, kw, gl, bl
  • Age 6 years: l, r, v, pl, kl, kr, fl, tr, st, dr, br, fr, gr, sn, sk, sw, sp, str, spl
  • Age 7 to 8 years: z, th, sm, sl, thr, skw, spr, skr

Communicating With Children

If your child is making mistakes while learning how to speak, this is perfectly normal in most cases. This is because their speech is still developing. By the age of three years, most children should be able to be understood by their parents, siblings, and peers.

If your child is struggling to be understood past this age, it may be time to look into speech therapy. If it’s difficult for you to understand what they’re saying at times, it can only be more difficult for people who don’t know your child as well as you do. This can lead to communication problems at school and with their friends.

As with speech in general, a child’s level of understandability increases as they age. A typical timeline of speech development looks something like:

  • Age 3 months: Makes cooing sounds
  • Age 5 months: Makes playful sounds and laughs
  • Age 6 months: Makes babbling sounds that resemble speech such as ‘puh’, ‘ba’, ‘mi’, and ‘da’
  • Age 2.5 years: A person the child is unfamiliar with should be able to understand about half of what they say.
  • Age 4 to 5 years: A person the child is unfamiliar with should be able to understand about three quarters of what they say.
  • Age 6 to 7 years: A person the child is unfamiliar with should be able to understand almost everything they say.

How Do I Know If My Child Needs Speech Therapy?

It may be worth considering speech therapy if your child:

  • Isn’t speaking similarly to their peers
  • Sounds immature for their age
  • Only uses a small amount of speech sounds
  • Doesn’t pronounce words the way you would expect for their age
  • Is difficult to understand when they speak
  • Stutters
  • Repeats sounds
  • Has hearing loss

It’s best to investigate any potential issues as soon as possible so that your child can begin speech therapy if needed.

Interested In Speech Therapy?

If you feel that your child may benefit from speech therapy, early intervention is key. At Chatterbox Speech Therapy we want the best for you and your family, so we’re here to help in five convenient locations. Our highly-qualified paediatric speech therapists provide speech therapy for children in Penrith, Kingswood, Oran Park, Bella Vista, and Rosehill. With our experience and knowledge we’re well-equipped to empower children experiencing speech difficulties and help them along their speech development journey. To make an appointment for your child, contact our friendly team today.