Another sound your child should begin articulating at an early stage of language development—between two and three years old—is the /w/ sound.
How to say it
To make this sound, your child should narrow his or her lips and move them close together without them touching—in a rounded fashion. You might suggest pretending like he or she is drinking through a straw. During vocalization, the back of the tongue should move up high in the mouth while the tip should be lightly touching your child’s bottom front teeth.
When making the /w/ sound, the lips will move farther apart. You might try starting with the “oo” as in “boo” sound, as the mouthing for both this and the /w/ sound are very similar. The difference is that during articulation of the /w/ sound, there is a slight closing off in the throat to give it the “wuh” sound.
How to practice it
Once your child is initially able to articulate the /w/ sound, practice it with her with progressive usage. First simply encourage repetition of the isolated sound. Once you and your child feel comfortable enough for another challenge, she should try pronouncing syllables that use the /w/ sound—“we,” “wa,” “wi.”
Those syllables should soon become words—“well,” “wash,” “wish.” Don’t be afraid to mix in some words that don’t start with the /w/ sound, but still implement it such as “away” and “now.”
The next step in mastering the /w/ sound is using it repeatedly in full sentences. Try stringing a few of these together for your child to practice. Here’s one to get you started: “When will the whale want more water?”
Ultimately, your child should be working towards fluency with the /w/ sound and being able to incorporate it into his or her conversations. Practice and repetition will be his or her best bet for reaching this goal.
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.