Children’s speech sounds change rapidly from the time they say their first word at around 12 months of age to 8 years of age. During this time children progress through stages of speech development and some children use speech processes such as deleting or substituting difficult sounds with ones that are easier for them to produce. Most parents are so used to their child’s speech that they may not even notice these speech errors and often it is someone outside the home (an unfamiliar listener) such as a school teacher or a friend of the family who first notices the speech errors.
About childrens speech and language development
These are some of the common speech errors that typically developing children may make at different ages when saying ‘I love you’.
Birth to 12 months
At this stage infants begin to vocalise but often they are not yet producing words. They use mainly gestures such as reaching towards the parent or loved one, grasping and hugging in conjunction with cooing or babbling in a rising tone of voice to indicate affection.
12 months to 2 years
At this stage children begin to use 1-2 words when communicating and have a strong attachment to their parents and loved ones. A child’s first word is often ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ and for this reason these words have evolved in most languages to include early developmentally emerging sounds such as vowels and the consonants ‘m’, ‘d’, ‘b’ and ‘p’. They may not be familiar with the word concept ‘Love’ and therefore may use the word ‘want’ instead. They may say a phrase such as ‘want dad’ or ‘want mum’ that might instead sound like:
“wut ad” or “wun mu”
In this case the child has simplified the ‘nt’ consonant cluster to just the ‘t’ sound. This process is known as cluster reduction and may be present until 3 years and 6 months of age. The child may also drop off the initial or final sound in the word. This is a process called final consonant deletion or initial consonant deletion and is normally present until 3 years and 3 months.
3 years-4 years
At this age children have an understanding of the word love and may begin to use it when speaking. Their phrases start to become longer and more difficult sounds begin to emerge. They start saying ‘I love you mum’ or ‘I love you dad’ that might sound like:
“I yub you dad” or “i wub you mum”
In this case the child has replaced the ‘v’ sound with a ‘b’ sound. This process is known as stopping and can be present until 3years 6 months to 4 years of age. The child has also replaced the ‘L’ sound with a ‘w’ or a ‘y’ sound. This process is known as gliding and can be present until the age of 5 years.
4 years-6 years
At this age children will be producing most sounds in the English language however they may still replace some complex sounds with simplified versions of the sound. A phrase like ‘I love my mother’ or ‘I love my father’ may sound like:
“I love my muva” or “i wove my fava”
In this case the child has replaced the ‘th’ sound with the simpler ‘v’ sound. This process is known as simplification and may be present until 7-8 years of age.
6 years-8 years
“I love you mother” or “i love you father”
At this age typically developing children will be able to produce all the sounds in the English language and are able to clearly say ‘I love you mother’ or ‘I love you father’.
8 years and above
At this stage children can recite anything from simple haiku poems to Shakespearian novels; the world of speech sounds is their oyster!
You can read more about child speech development here at the Speech Pathology Australia website, click here. speechpathologyaustralia.org.au
About Ashleigh Fattah
Ashleigh is a Speech Pathologist who sees both children and adults. She has experience from a Master of Speech and Language Pathology degree and a spectrum of clinical environments including private practice, inpatient and outpatient hospitals, school and community based practice. She is committed to providing evidence-based interventions for children and adults alike, tailoring therapy to each client’s individual needs. Her clinical experience enables her to provide comprehensive one-on-one, group and school program interventions. Ashleigh is trained in providing an array of up-to-date therapy techniques to help both children and adults achieve their goals.
If you have questions about childrens speech and language development contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist. We‘ll provide you with a simple, efficient and very effective routine targeted to your concerns.