Speech Issues for Toddlers and Children


There can be so many issues or stumbling blocks that pop up with our children, especially as they age. As babies, it’s not as easy to tell. However, when they get old enough to start talking and be more mobile, that’s when little signs or even big signs start to pop up. One of these problems can be speech issues. Many children have them and many of these issues can be reversed, even if they’re caught later on. However, there are some that may not be so easy to fix.

It’s important to note that children won’t speak perfectly, especially if they’re still learning to talk, in general. It’s not necessary to take a child to a speech therapist or the doctor if they simply can’t get specific words correct while still learning. This is normal and all part of the cognitive development process. Read further for the signs and symptoms your child could display at an early age that are a true cause for concern.

Speech Sound Disorders

Within this bracket, a child could have one of three issues – omissions, substitutions, and distortions. For example, an omission is leaving out sounds or letters, substitutions result in a letter being changed for a different letter, and distortions are when a child attempts a specific sound and makes a funny noise instead, on accident. All of these can be normal for children of certain ages if they’re still learning how to talk. However, these signs could also be the result of oral apraxia (normal voluntary movement of the lips and tongue) or dysarthria (paralysis or poor coordination of the lips and tongue). Cincinnati Children’s states the following signs as cause for concern with these disorders in mind.

8-9 Months – No consonant sounds are used while babbling (mainly b, d, m, and n)

12 Months – Isn’t using words beyond “mama” and “dada”

18 Months – Only uses vowel sounds or gestures (such as pointing) for communication with little to no communication in a normal manner

3 Years – If the child is hard to understand while talking or drops consonant sounds

4+ Years – Hard to understand, has difficulty with letters such as “S” and “R,” or is embarrassed over their speech

Fluency Disorders

These types of disorders are within the bracket of those children who suffer with stuttering and other related issues. If your child has trouble repeating words too many times, elongates their words often, hesitates constantly, or is even embarrassed and worried about their speech, this could be signs of a fluency disorder. Even if you, as a parent, don’t notice it but your child is hesitant and feels embarrassed over their speech, it’s important they see a professional who can verify whether they have a disorder or not.

Voice Disorders

Children can have raspy voices if they’ve been sick or even if they’re a little too tired. However, if a child has a raspy, too quiet, too loud, overly high, or overly low voice on a consistent basis, this could be signs that they have a voice disorder. A child can even show signs of this by having a voice be pitchy, where it cuts in and out or sounds like they’re going through puberty at too young of an age. Another aspect to look out for is if your child sounds like they constantly have a cold that’s keeping their nose stuffed up.

A speech disorder can be difficult to diagnose, especially with younger children. That’s why it’s important to watch for any signs and symptoms and consult a doctor when necessary.