Infant-Toddler Talking: It’s Hard to Say “Bubble Guppies”

The phrase “Bubble Guppies” is difficult for any infant or toddler to produce since it has so many syllables (i.e., 4) and because it contains so many similarly produced sounds (i.e., b, p, g). My 3-1/2 year old Sam struggled five times this morning to produce it correctly. For three of the first five times he said “Gubble Puppies,” produced it as “Gupple Bubbies once, and as “Bupple Gubbies” once. He finally said “Bubble Guppies” (Perseverance!) and then it stuck for the remainder of our conversation about the show he was watching.

Sequencing all those syllables and sounds is no small task for children when they are learning to speak words from about the age of 12 months and as speech continues to develop to near 90% intelligibility with unfamiliar listeners on their 3rd birthday. That means that by the time a child blows out three candles on his or her birthday cake, unfamiliar listeners, such as a grocery store clerk or a grandparent who only sees the child every so often, can understand about 90% of what the child says and must only ask for clarification the remaining 10% of the time during an interaction!


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