Toddler pronunciation: speaking properly

In order to speak, your child needs motor coordination in their mouth, tongue, throat and even lungs. No wonder it takes years to put it all together properly! Some sounds are predictably hard for kids this age, so don't worry or criticise if your toddler makes a few mistakes.

Here are a few sounds that often trip up toddlers:

  • Blends such as 'th', 'sp', 'bl' and 'dr'.

  • The 'r' and 'l' distinction. English speakers probably won't really get this right until age five; for other language groups, the two sounds may never be separate.

  • The 'v' sound. Look for this to show up in car and truck sound effects before your child uses it in actual words.


At this age your child is expected to stutter, so have patience. In these early years, your child's mind is going faster than their mouth, so their words tumble out or get in the way of one another. You can help them by urgingthem to slow down and by guessing at their meaning. If they're still stuttering or stumbling over language when they enter school, tell your health visitor.

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