Mispronunciations are common in childhood. Some mispronunciations are normal, but others could benefit from help from a speech therapist. So what is normal? Typically a 2 year old should be understood by strangers about 50% of the time while a 3 year old should be understood by a stranger 80% of the time.
It is normal for children to simplify words to make them easier to say. For instance, a child may say “tee” or “twee” instead of tree. Or a child may say “buh” for the word book. Many children use specific patterns to simplify their words. These patterns typically go away as the child grows.
However, some children develop unusual patterns or have patterns that persist long beyond the times they would be outgrown. These children would benefit from help from a speech therapist.
Typically by age 18-24 months the p, h, n, b, m, and w sounds are used in words. By age 24-36 months most children use the k, g, f, d, y, s, t, and ng in words. The ch, sh, and l are typically pronounced correctly by age 4. The r and th sounds are normally pronounced correctly before age 5.
If your child is frustrated at being misunderstood or if you notice sound errors that are impacting how much your child is understood, get an evaluation by a speech therapist to determine whether or not your child would benefit from speech therapy.