Parents are often concerned when their child is swapping sounds in words and I often get asked what sounds to expect at what age?
It is a good question.
I do think though one of the funniest things as a parent can be how our kids say words. I remember when I was a young child watching my cousin hold the floor and he would have been about 2 years of age. Not a word that he said made any sense at all. But he was telling us a story, I am quite sure with jokes. I suspect this experience was part of the reason I choose to become a Speech Pathologist. It was hilarious!
I love having conversations with little people and holding a straight face!
But in response to the question, the short answer is:
As a rule of thumb. 3 year old children should be understood by those close to them. Most of what they say (75%) is likely to be understood by people who are not close to them. By 4 years of age, everybody should be understanding everything. This does not mean that their talking is 100% the same as an adult it is just intelligible and can be understood.
Speech Pathologists look at if the child can actually say the sound, this is called articulation. By 5 they should be able to actually say all sounds, some children may still have difficulties with r, v and th but all the others they should be able to produce.
We also look at how they are putting the sounds into words. Some children will be able to say all the sounds, but when they combine them into words they change them. This is known as phonology. It is very common for a 2 ½ year old child to say ‘tar’ for car (this is known as ‘fronting’), or to say ‘bu’ for bus (final consonant deletion). It is not for a four year old.