The Speech Sounds Development Chart is a common tool used in speech therapy to help track a child’s ongoing development across the various sounds of spoken language.

As children develop all skills at their own rate, these charts are a good indication of particular milestones are reached by most.

However, don’t panic if your child is missing one or two of the skills listed within their age range. Rather, use these as a guide and if you have any concerns – reach out to a speech therapist for further advice and next steps to ensure your child is reaching their full speech and language potential.

Age (average)SoundExample
Three years old/d/
Three and a half years old/f/Friend
Four years old/ch/
Four and a half years old/s/
Five years old/r/ Red
Six years old/v/Vegetable
Eight years old/th/This
Eight and a half years old/th/Thing

Common ‘errors’ in a child’s pronunciation of speech sounds are known as phonological processes. All children learn to pronounce and distinguish sounds in different ways, and will often follow through a pattern of using certain phonological processes before learning how to say the target sounds correctly.

Sometimes, children have difficulty with learning to say sounds correctly, and require some additional supports from speech professionals such as those at Hear and Say to help them get there.

One simple way to help your child’s development of speech sounds is to model the correct pronunciation, and celebrate their successes! Check out this blog for eight language facilitation strategies to try at home.

Phonological processExplanationExampleWhat age it usually disappears (on average – guide only)
VoicingWhen sounds that don’t need much vocal power are emphasised/t/ becomes /d/
(‘time’ becomes ‘dime’)
Three years old
FrontingWhen sounds that usually are made at the back of the mouth are instead made at the front/k/ becomes /t/
(‘cat’ becomes ‘tat’)
Three and a half years old
StoppingWhen long sounds are replaced with short sounds/s/ becomes /t/
(‘see’ becomes ‘tee’)
Three to five years old
Cluster reductionWhen two consonant (non-vowel) sounds that usually sit together are reduced to one consonant sound/st/ becomes /t/
(‘stop’ becomes ‘top’)
Four years old
Final or initial consonant deletion When the first or last consonant sound in a word is removed/p/ drops off in ‘top’Four years old
Weak syllable deletionWhen syllables that don’t need much stress are forgotten in words/le/ drops off in
‘elephant’ to become ‘ephant’
Four years old
GlidingWhen sounds requiring the tongue to be in the correct place are sometimes not/r/ becomes /w/
(‘rabbit’ becomes
Five years old

Sources and further reading

Bowen, C. (2020). Typical speech and language acquisition in infants and young children.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2021). Developmental Norms for Speech and Language.

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