Speech Sound Development

Learning speech sounds is a tricky task. Your little one needs to learn to control many muscles and make complex tiny movements of their lips, tongue, palate, cheeks, jaw and diaphragm. They will master speech sounds over a period of time.


  • Babies are learning the complex skills of controlling their lips, tongue, cheeks, jaw, palate, diaphragm and lungs to make sounds.

  • Your baby will make lots of vowel sounds (“oooo”, “ah”, “eye eye”).

  • Many of their words will be simple sounds (“dar” for star, “mah” for mummy). This is completely normal for their age.


  • Your toddler will still make mistakes when saying words.

  • Simplifying words – “bisketi” for spaghetti

  • Reducing clusters of sounds – “tee” for tree

  • Making sounds at the ‘front of their mouth (for example “tar” for car)

  • By 3 years, your toddler should be understood by most adults.


  • By four years, your child will be able to say most sounds.

  • Some sounds may still be difficult including ‘r’, ‘v’ and ‘th’.

  • Some sound combinations and long words will still be tricky for your preschooler. For example they may say “stawberry” for strawberry and “amblance” for ambulance.

  • When children start school their speech should be easily understood by unfamiliar listeners.

When to get help

  • Baby

    • If your baby is not making sounds when they play
  • Toddler

    • If you cannot understand what your toddler is trying to tell you at 2 years
    • If other people find your 3 year old difficult to understand
  • Preschooler

    • If your child is starting school and their speech is still unclear