Babies grow up so fast. Before you know it, your little peanut is crawling around the house, mouthing objects, and gleefully babbling to themselves as well as to others. Children should be producing their first speech sounds well before their first birthday. Initially sound play is vocal and oral exploration. It may consist of short bursts of sounds as well as long strings containing many different consonants and vowels. As your baby grows, they’ll become more adept at putting these speech sounds together, forming long chains of varying sounds as well as speech sounds repeated in a string.

The first speech sounds your baby makes will likely include sounds made with your lips / M, B, P/, sounds made in the back of the throat / G,K/ or sounds made with the tongue and alveolar ridge together /D,T/. As you listen for these sounds, you can help encourage your baby’s speech development by imitating or playing with these sounds when engaging in play or speaking with your baby. 

When Will My Child Start Making Speech Sounds?

Most babies will start cooing and making simple vowel sounds by two months of age. As children grow, they begin to use their vocalizations to express a variety of needs and wants that parents cue into as they get to know their child. For example, you may notice different cries to express hunger vs tired or the same sound with a varying intonation to express happy vs angry feelings. As children gain muscle control, strength and oral coordination these vocal sounds gel into specific sounds that they have heard in their environment. 

Babies will usually have a lot of fun playing with their voice! As they make cooing or speech sounds, babies will often practice varying their volume or play with their pitch. This type of play helps your baby become more familiar with the sound and range of their voice. This type of play also encourages oral strength and coordination for speech and feeding skills.

As your child grows, they will start making isolated sounds and then put these sounds together into syllables and word approximations. For example, your child may use the word approximation of “ba” for ball or “da” to represent daddy.. Usually, this process will continue throughout your child’s toddler years. 

How does my child produce beginning speech sounds?

The development of speech sounds is not universal. However, most children will start practicing the following speech sounds towards the beginning of their development.

M, B, and P Sounds

  • M Sound: The M sound is made when you press your lips together and activate your voice. This is the sound that is used in words such as “mommy,”  “mine,” or “milk.”
  • B Sound: The B sound is very similar to the M sound. You press your lips together and activate your voice. To make a B sound you also add a puff of air pushed out at the end. This is the sound that your child will use in words like “bottle,” baby,” and “ball”. 
  • P Sound: The P sound is very similar to the B sound, only the voice is not activated. The sound itself comes from pressing the lips together and releasing a puff of air. This sound is used in words like “pop”, “pull” and “hop”.

G and K Sounds 

  • G Sound: A G sound is slightly more complicated. The tongue is drawn back into the mouth so that the back of the tongue touches the roof of the mouth. You then release air as the voice is activated and the tongue drops. This sound is used in words such as “go,” “grandma,” and “dog.”
  • K Sound: The K sound is made with the same tongue movement as the G sound–only in this instance, the voice is not activated. The K sound is used in words such as “cup”, “kiss”, and “come”.

D and T Sounds

  • D Sound: The D is produced by placing the tip of your tongue on the little ridge on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth, then release the tongue, allowing air to rush through your mouth. D is produced in words such as “dog”, “duck” and “daddy”
  • T Sound: To produce the T air is briefly prevented from leaving the vocal tract when the tip of the tongue presses against the alveolar ridge while the sides of the tongue press against the upper side teeth. The sound is created when the air and tongue are released. T is noted in words such as “toe”, “hot” and “hat”.

These speech sounds will typically emerge by the time your child is around the age of one year old. 

How Can I Help My Child Make Early Speech Sounds?

Parents can provide support and guidance to assist their child’s speech development. 

Here are some activities parents can use to help children more easily practice and become comfortable with early sound development production. Those activities including the following:

  • Engage with your child in vocal play: Focus your playful vocal interactions on objects within your child’s environment in which they engage with frequently. Say the “target sounds” many times so that your child can observe how the sound is formed in the mouth and hear its production. 
  • Model for them: Babies and toddlers often learn speech sounds in part by watching parents make those same sounds. As a result, modeling the sounds you make can help your kiddo more quickly grasp (and practice) how to make that same sound. For example, if you want your child to practice M sounds, take the time to model how you create the sound. Slow down when you use M-words and be sure to show your child how you’re forming the words with your mouth.
  • Play games with them: Children often learn best through play. As a result, sometimes the best way to help them practice their speech sounds is to find a language game you can play together.

What if Sounds Don’t Develop on Time?

It’s important to remember that your child’s first speech sounds will not necessarily develop on a set schedule. Every child is different. However, if you suspect that your child and family could use some support, you can talk to a speech language pathologist.

Speech therapy can help children practice and develop speech sounds that are otherwise proving to be challenging.

If you want to talk about your child’s speech development, contact us today to schedule an appointment.