Should my child be able to say the ‘th’ sound?

Children may say some sounds the wrong way as they learn to talk. So yes, it could absolutely be normal that your child is unable to say the ‘th’ sound in word like ‘thing’, three’ and ‘bath’, depending on their age.  

Children acquire speech sounds in a particular order with ones like ‘p’, ‘m’ and ‘d’ being earlier developing sounds, whilst others such as ‘r’ and ‘th’ take longer to learn. We generally don’t expect children to be producing these accurately until they are about 6 years old. Of course, however, the age of acquisition of speech sounds varies quite significantly among children and some children will acquire these sounds earlier than the expected time frame. As a general rule of thumb, we say that by the age of 4 children should be 100% intelligible- that is the proportion of a speakers output that a listener can readily understand, to strangers.  

Outlined below are the ages at which most children acquire the speech sounds.  

A child who does not say sounds by the expected age may have a speech sound disorder. You may hear the terms “articulation disorder” and “phonological disorder” to describe speech sound disorders like this.  

If you have any concerns with your child’s speech and language development, then contact us here at Eat Speak Learn. A speech pathologist can help you or your child say sounds correctly and clearly.  

Treatment may include the following:  

  • Learning the correct way to make sounds 
  • Learning to tell when sounds are right or wrong  
  • Practicing sounds in different words and longer sentences 

A hearing test may also be recommended before commencing therapy to ensure that they are hearing the sounds appropriately.  

Bridget McDonnell