Getting the sounds out

Learning to talk has so many aspects, including a very tricky one…  Getting the brain to coordinate the ‘articulators’ (tongue, lips, teeth) along with voice and the jaw and even cheeks to make a sound.  Let alone stringing a few sounds together to make a word!

Babbling

It all begins with babbling, getting the jaw and lips/tongue moving.  It might be /bababa/ or /mamama/ or /dadada/ or /papapa/.  These might sound like what we say, but they are actually ‘immature’ versions of the sounds we produce later as adults.  For example, a baby moves their jaw and if their tongue happens to go with it, it might come out as a ‘dada’, but they cannot actually hold their jaw still and move their tongue to produce a ‘d’ by itself.  And even a ‘b’ or ‘m’ actually happens more by the fact that their lips happen to be closed before they open their jaw, rather than actually choosing to press their lips together, as we would.

Babbling is a great sign that your baby is practicing to talk!

First sounds

Children can make many different speech ‘errors’ as they learn to talk clearly.  Their brain has a lot of work in organising a string of sounds to make a word… and then sentences.  By two (anything goes before that!), the first sounds your child should be able to physically make are: p, b, m, d, n, t, h, w.  For all the other sounds, your little one may either use a different sound or leave it out altogether.

At two years of age, can other people understand half of what your child says?  A parent will always understand more, so get someone like a family member or a daycare leader to judge.

At three years of age, can others understand most of what your child is saying?  Then your child is probably going along okay!

Between 12 months and 3 years of age, your child will gain literally hundreds and thousands of words and have a lot of time to practice talking.  If your child is an early talker, their speech will tend to be clearer before the later talkers, just through more practice!

By three years of age, your child should also be able to use these sounds in words: k, g, f, ng.

By four years of age, your child should be using all sounds accurately except the following: s, v, r, th and consonant clusters (eg. green, pink).  Your child may still have a ‘lisp‘ when starting school (eg. ‘thilly’ for ‘silly’), which may need attention from a speech pathologist to correct.  They may also have difficulty with ‘r’, ‘v’ and ‘th’ up until 8 years of age.  This is the grey area where it is good to keep an eye on your child up until these ages (or think about speech pathologist waiting lists) but not necessarily be too concerned before this as it could certainly resolve itself.

If your child uses a dummy or sucks their thumb, keep in mind the longer they do it, the more possibility they could experience difficulty with a lisp and incorrect mouth position.   This is more likely for children who suck a dummy or thumb well past three years of age.

If your child is having difficulty making certain sounds, here are a few pointers:

  • don’t make fun of your child’s speech! For the young ones, it is likely they aren’t aware they are making errors
  • emphasise the correct way to pronounce the sound in the word (eg. ‘ohh the carrot’ for a child saying ‘tarrot’) but don’t make a big deal of it 
  • try not to exaggerate the sound too much or you risk your child learning to say the word with the sound exaggerated
  • be wary of children who may become upset with a lot of attention drawn to their speech errors (particularly the older children).  It is probably better to look into a speech pathologist if this becomes a problem before they really get put off focussing on changing speech errors
  • notice if your child changes the speech error over time – your child might start by saying ‘crown’ as ‘wown’, but then they might start calling it a ‘fwown’ which is getting closer as they are now putting a sound (‘f’) in place of the ‘c’ instead of no sound.  This is a sign your child is developing their speech skills and might resolve the speech errors on their own!

Remember!  The more you reinforce your child’s shortened versions of words, such as ‘nana/narny’ for ‘banana’, ‘bik bik’ for ‘biscuit’ or ‘puter’ for ‘computer’, the less of a model they get to eventually say the word correctly.  Model how to say words for your child!

Don’t forget to follow I raise my kids here on the blog!

Related post – ‘We’re off to a speechie – finding a brilliant one’.

This entry was posted in Speech development and tagged , , , , , , , , by heidelightful. Bookmark the permalink.

About heidelightful

Hello friend! I am a paediatric speech pathologist and health coach. My vision is to create a world where parents can understand the real link between diet and their child's health and behaviour, and know how to create true health for their family. My two young, wonderful and sensitive sons both have food intolerances and have also taught me about my own, that I have never known about until now! Topics I have looked into for my own family's health and also from my role as a speech pathologist with children with picky eating are food intolerances, fussy eaters, creating healthy eaters and eating to prevent and ‘cure’ childhood issues such as ADHD, autism, eczema/skin issues, trouble sleeping, low immunity, frequent snot/ear infections and bedwetting, to name a few. I write many posts coming from being an exhausted mum trying to keep up with fussy boys who can only eat certain foods and also as a professional who has worked with other children with similar issues. I live on the Sunshine Coast in Australia with my husband and two boys and was previously an exchange student in Brazil! I hope to inspire you to help your child achieve their potential through health and well-being. Thanks for stopping by :) Heidi

4 thoughts on “Getting the sounds out

  1. Hi, thanks for this post! My 18 month old is only saying a handful of words, no, bye, go, oh no, pah (for up) and bee! I have taken him to many drs and they assure me that he doesn’t need to see a speech therapist. Do you think I should keep pressing the matter?

    • Hi Lauren
      Sorry for the delay. Anything goes until 2, so don’t be too alarmed right now. But do keep an eye on it.
      Does he understand many words you say to him? As long as understanding is well and truly expanding, it should be okay. As he approaches 2, you could think about speech pathology waiting lists and get him on one.
      But otherwise check out my other posts in the LANGUAGE file on the blog to learn more about what you can do in the meantime.
      All the best
      Heifi

      • Thanks for your response. Makes me feel a little reassured. He understands everything, go get you hat or shoes, let’s go to the car, do you want a drink or something to eat etc. He response with a no or ta (instead of yes) I will check out your files to find a few little tips. He tries to say words like shis is for fish etc.

      • Hi Lauren
        I hardly get onto the computer to respond. That’s sounding good that he understands all of that. Don’t be too worried about clarity of speech now. Just encourage him to keep trying to talk with you!
        🙂 Heidi

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