One of the most important things to address when your child begins learning to articulate the /b/ sound is differentiating between /b/ and /p/. Both sounds use the same mouth positions, however the difference is that /p/ is a voiceless sound and /b/ is voiced, meaning the vocal chords are used to produce it. This could be a difficult sound for your child to master, so fluency can be achieved any time between two and four years of age.
How it’s elicited
To make the /b/ sound, the lips should remain press together while the teeth part gradually.
This is a “stop consonant” meaning there are two parts to the articulation of this sound. The first is stopping the airflow. The second is the release of it. Obviously, the part of articulation during which you or your child’s lips are closed is the stoppage of air. Say the word “cab” to yourself. Notice how your mouth shuts off at the beginning of the /b/ sound and then opens to release that air and produce the “buh” sound.
This is a sound best taught through imitation. Articulate the /b/ slowly and very clearly in front of your child several times and then encourage him to repeat it back to you. Tell them to pay attention to the way your lips move in an explosive manner when you release the air and let the sound escape your mouth.
How to practice
Once your child is stimulable—meaning he or she is able to directly imitate the /b/ sound when you make it—it’s time to push their skill and confidence level. Start by incorporating the /b/ sound into syllables.
Try starting syllables that begin with the /b/ sound (“bee, ba, boo”). When your child is comfortable making these basic syllabic sounds, try moving up to some more advanced drills—ones that end with the /b/ sound, rather than begin with it. “Abe,” ib, and “ab” are all useful in developing your child’s ability to properly make the /b/ sound.
Next start testing your child’s ability to pronounce entire words that incorporate the /b/ sound—“bat,” “bill,” “been.” Try finding a variety of words for your child to practice, not just ones that start with the /b/ sound.
Sentences including the /b/ should be the next step in achieving fluency with the / b/ sound. It’s important thing to remember during practice that repetition and the correct articulation are most important in mastering this sound. If you notice your child stumbling over the /b/ sounds once he begins incorporating it into words and sentences, make sure you step in and have him repeat the word correct before moving on to the next one. It’s okay to encourage your child to go slow at first when saying words or sentences.
If you are concerned with your child’s speech or language development, please contact Chicago Speech Therapy by clicking on the “Contact Karen” button on the upper right section of this page. Your online inquiry should be responded to within 30 minutes.
Karen George is a Chicago speech-language pathologist. Karen is a founding member and the current leader of Chicago Speech Therapists Connect, a group of Chicago-area speech-language pathologists. As of Jan 2012, the Chicago Speech Therapists group contained over 400 members. The private pediatric speech therapy practice Karen founded, Chicago Speech Therapy, LLC, provides in-home pediatric speech therapy in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Karen and her team of Chicago speech therapists have a reputation for ultra-effective speech therapy and work with a variety of speech disorders. Karen is the author of several books such as A Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language Milestones, A Parent’s Guide to Articulation, A Parent’s Guide to Speech Delay, A Parent’s Guide to Stuttering Therapy, and A Parent’s Guide to Pediatric Feeding Therapy. She is often asked to speak and has addressed audiences at Children’s Memorial and Northwestern University. Karen is highly referred by many Chicago-area Pediatricians and elite schools.