top of page

Speech Sound Development



Average age children learn to pronounce English consonants correctly; based on 15 English speech acquisition studies compiled by McLeod and Crowe, 2018


2-3 Years

p, b, m, d, n, h, t, k, g, w, ng, f, y

4 Years

l, j, ch, s, v, sh, z

5 Years

r, zh, th (voiced)

6 Years

th (voiceless)

McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. (2018). Children’s consonant acquisition in 27 languages: A cross-linguistic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0100. Available from:

Developmental Concerns

Under 18 months

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by 6 months

  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by 9 months or thereafter

  • No babbling by 12 months

  • Does not respond to his/her name by 12 months

  • No sharing/reciprocal interactions like pointing, sharing, reaching or waving by 12 months

  • No pointing at objects of interest by 14 months (pointing at a car driving by)

  • Does not understand simple common words like mama or milk

  • Is not using any words by 16 months

  • Does not imitate gross motor movements like clapping or stomping feet


By 18 Months

  • Does not use at least 8-10 meaningful words

  • Does not follow simple commands like “come here” “stop” “don’t” “give me the __________”  or “touch your nose”

  • Does not follow your pointing with his gaze

  • Is not playing “pretend” with items (talking on toy phone, feeding a doll)

  • Does not play in proximity to other children


By Age Two

  • No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months

  • Does not follow simple two step commands such as “Get the ball and put it on the table”

  • Speech is not at least 50% understandable

  • Cannot point to pictures of items in books when asked


By Age Three

  • Is not using three and four word sentences

  • Speech is not at least 75% or more understandable

  • Child is leaving the beginnings or ends off of most words

  • Cannot accurately answer yes/no questions

  • Cannot answer simple “wh” questions like “who is that?” or “where is the truck?”

  • Does not play with other children

  • Is experiencing stuttering behavior for more than 6 months

By Four to Five Years

  • Is not 90-100% understandable to strangers despite age appropriate articulation errors (may not be able to say /r, sh, ch, l, or th yet)

  • Is not consistently using 4+ word, complex  sentences

  • Is not asking a variety of questions to gain information (who, what, where, why and when)

  • Is having difficulty with grammar or pronoun use

  • Cannot tell a simple story on topic

  • Cannot follow simple two step directions

  • Has difficulty answering simple who, what, where and why questions

  • Is not yet able to name a few letters, numbers, and rhyming words


Overall Warning Signs

  • ANY loss of speech or babbling or social skills at ANY age

  • Never gestures or imitates

  • Does not appear to understand speech, or appears to be unable to hear

  • Never develops words beyond repeating others over and over


Please use this list as a resource only. If you have any concerns about your child's development, talk to your pediatrician. An assessment of your child's developmental skills may be warranted.  For more information:




bottom of page