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My 22-month old speaks with a lisp. Granted she's only saying about 100-150 words and can form short sentences. However she can't form all the sounds that adults can yet. However all of her 's' are pronounced like 'the'.

Should I be concerned? Should I try to start correcting her?

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What does your pediatrician say? Some sounds are more difficult than others to pronounce than others, and it takes kids a while to get their mouths to cooperate. My 28-mth-old still says "tr" as "fw" (to hilarious effect). –  Valkyrie Aug 13 '13 at 17:06
My daughter said 'left' as 'lept' (and similar) until she was just over three, our pediatrician didn't consider the possibility of a speech problem until the child is at least five, and said it's something almost every single parent of a toddler asks. –  Tim Post Aug 14 '13 at 14:43

3 Answers 3

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Most speech concerns are not real worries until a child is 5 or 6. If children continue to have a lisp when they begin elementary school they are generally referred to a speech specialist to work on those sounds. As much as a lisp in a toddler is not a concern, children learn language from imitating what they hear. It is never too young to speak clearly and purposefully to your child. I always repeat a mispronounced word to my children with the correct pronunciation. This is used with older children in speech therapy as well. It helps the child hear the difference between what they said and what you said. It is important to do this in a casual manner - understand that the child is learning and possibly not capable of making the sounds yet. It is also a great idea to have your child watch your mouth so see how your mouth is shaped and moves as you pronounce words and sounds. This may help you child improve, but it may just be due to am immaturity of the muscle formation and will simply take time.

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Most mispronunciations are not something you can correct by telling the child they are saying it wrongly. One of my children had a persistent use of the n sound where l belongs (eg eating nunch) and I kept asking my doctor who kept saying n is one of the last sounds for children to get right. I kept countering that if my child was saying "wunch" like the other agemates I would calm down, but this was an entirely different thing. I was reasonably worked up about it, and then at whatever late age they are supposed to get l right, the problem disappeared.

Lisps are super common in toddlers - that's why people imitating baby talk use them, along with "I wuv woo mommy" and the like. Relax, understand her, cause her to believe she can get her thoughts across to you, and don't worry that it needs correcting until you get to the age where it is supposed to be correct. By then it almost certainly will be, and if it is not then she will be old enough to understand whatever you need to explain to her as part of correcting it.

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Chrys - I was trying to show her how to form her mouth and how to place her teeth to make the "s" sound. It's funny that she continues to stick her tongue between her teeth and makes the 'th' sound. –  milesmeow Aug 16 '13 at 4:56

As a mother and speech-language pathologist, I understand the concerns of speech and language development. Some general information to know is each sound of our language has a different range of ages in which your child should correctly produce the sound. By age 8, your child should be able to produce all sounds of the English language, unless second language learner. Your child’s production errors are considered disordered when they continue to misarticulate sounds past the age at which most of his or her peers use the phoneme correctly. Since your child is only 2, I would take a wait and see stance, since the age of development for the production of the phoneme /s/ is between 3 to 8 years of age. When you are playing with your child you could playfully say some words similar to their current errors and playfully say “uh I said that the old way I need to say that the new way” then self correct. I would avoid terms like right and wrong to avoid a negative association with their speech.

Good luck!

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