Expected Ages of Speech Sound Acquisition

Guest Authored By Kendra K, M.S., CCC-SLP

Blue Bird Day and Speech Therapy

As speech therapists, we often hear concerns from parents regarding specific speech sounds that their child is having difficulty with. Each specific speech sound is expected to begin developing at a certain age as a child’s articulators and motor planning skills develop. We consider a sound to be “mastered” when a child is able to produce the sound accurately in 80% of instances. See below for when each speech sound is expected to be acquired and mastered as according to the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA). 


Speech Sound  Age of Expected Acquisition  Age of Expected Mastery 
p  1.5 years  3 years 
m  1.5 years  3 years 
h  1.5 years  3 years 
n  1.5 years  3 years 
w  1.5 years  3 years 
b  1.5 years  3 years 
k  2 years  4 years 
g  2 years  4 years 
d  2 years  4 years 
t  2 years  6 years 
ng  2 years  6 years 
f  2.5 years  4 years 
y  2.5 years  4 years 
r  3 years  6 years 
l  3 years  6 years 
s  3 years  8 years 
ch  3.5 years  7 years 
sh  3.5 years  7 years 
z  3.5 years  8 years 
j  4 years  7 years 
v  4 years  8 years 
th (voiceless as in “think”)  4.5 years  7 years 
th (voiced – as in “the”)  5 years  8 years 
zh  6 years  8 years 

All children develop speech and language at different rates and in different patterns, therefore it is important to keep in mind that these are simply guidelines. If your child has difficulty with a speech sound and their age is over the expected age of mastery or if a specific speech sound is greatly impacting their ability to be understood, reach out to our speech team to add a goal to your child’s treatment plan! 

Sander, E. K. (1972). When are speech sounds learned? Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 37(1), 55–63. 

Templin, M. (1957). Certain language skills in children: Their development and interrelationships. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 

Wellman, B., Case, I., Mengert, I., & Bradbury, D. (1931). Speech sounds of young children. University of Iowa Study, Child Welfare, 5(2), 1-82.