Should I worry if my daughter talks but can't pronounce half the words right at 44 months?

Sia - posted on 11/03/2014 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 44 months. She understands what we tell her. She talks a lot and learns fast, but half of the things she say we can't understand her. For me, I do because I am always with her. Two and a half weeks ago, she just learned the word purple. That's the third color she learned to say and by its color. We tried teaching and helping her to pronounce the words right but sometimes she'll just say she can't. She says a lot of different things or words that is not even close to the words but when we try to correct her, she'll say "I am saying it right!". She'll be 4 in March 2015. I know that sometimes toddlers have speech delay but its not that she's not speaking, she is, its just half of these words are not correct. She pronounces a lot of words incorrectly, like, Dora. She'll say hora, eli is pronounced heli, and the word auntie is huh huh.

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Chet - posted on 11/04/2014

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By this age, speech should be understandable about 75% of the time. Not necessarily correct, but at least three quarters of the time people should know what your daughter is trying to say.

By four speech should be pretty much fully understandable. March is far enough away though, that I wouldn't hold your daughter to the 4 year old standard at this point. Four months is a really long time at this age.

Try not to correct your daughter. Just model the correct usage. If she says "I watched Hora" you say "Yes, you did watch Dora" as though you're just agreeing with her, not correcting her.

There are speech and pronunciation errors that can take years for a child to grow out of. There are a couple of challenging sounds that some kids won't be able to pronounced until they're 7 or 8 years old.

In your case though, I would probably go for a consult with a speech language pathologist. For two reasons:

1. If your daughter gets agitated and says "I am saying it right" her speech may be on it's way to causing emotional or social stress. And the younger kids do speech therapy the more opportunity you have for it to be fun. SLPs have all the best toys!

2. The example you used with Hora / Dora is notable because D is an easy sound and R is a difficult sound. I think a 3.5 year old who says Doh-ah for Dora is very likely to outgrow that on their own. A 3.5 year old that can't say D but can say R, and who says Hora instead of Dora, seems more likely to need some help with their speech.

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Sarah - posted on 11/06/2014

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Do the hearing check too. With her saying the words but them sounding completely different could very well be a hearing thing too.

Remember you are the parent. No one else is going to care more about your child then you do. And if you get her speech and hearing tested and nothing is wrong nothing is hurt. But if you don't get her speech and hearing tested and there is something wrong then everything is hurt. Better to hear she is fine and it will come then it is to hear if only you would have had her tested earlier.

Sia - posted on 11/06/2014

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Thanks. I am looking into speech but some family and friends are telling me not to worry but I am because I have to two sisters who doesn't understand 90% of the things my daughter is saying. Even my husband doesn't understand half of the things. A lot of times she says the word but sounds completely different. Thanks again.

Dove - posted on 11/04/2014

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She should have been evaluated for hearing and speech at least by her third birthday, so yes... definitely speak to her doctor immediately.

Sarah - posted on 11/04/2014

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I would get her speech evaluated. By her age she should be able to say most of her words so they are understandable by others. She may need help learning how to say some of her letters. Speech therapy would help with this. They teach kids in a easy way for kids to learn and figure out how to say each letter and then put those letters into words. I would also get her hearing evaluated. If she is not hearing fully she may be repeating the words as she hears them, but not correctly. If there is a hearing problem correcting that will GREATLY increase her speech and it will be like night and day with her speech.

I would suggest if you are in the US calling your local school and getting connected with AEA (Area Education Association) they would do both a hearing and speech evaluation for free and then if there is a need in either or both areas they would help with that and often times that is free as well.

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