How To Teach The Y Sound To Toddlers by Chicago Speech Therapists Connect

The /y/ consonant sound should make its way into your child’s speech development between the ages of two and a half and four. The consonant sound is considering the “hard” /y/ sound, used in words like “yes” and “yellow.”

How it’s elicited

When making the /y/ sound the middle/top part of the tongue should touch the roof on the mouth, just in front of the soft palette. The actual /y/ sound is made when the tongue lowers itself and touches the back part of the bottom teeth and the throat closes off. The sound will travel over the tongue and out of the mouth.

Since this is a rather complex sound, it might be best to break it down into two parts when your child is first learning it. First, tell him to repeat the “ee” sound, like in “tree.” Next he should repeat the “uh” sound, like in “fun.” Encourage him to combine these two
sounds together and repeat them several times—“ee-uh.” This should gradually flow into the natural pronunciation of the /y/ sound.

How to practice

Once your child is stimulable—meaning he or she is able to directly imitate the /y/ sound when you make it—it’s time to push their skill and confidence level. Start by incorporating the /y/ sound into syllables.

Try starting syllables that begin with the /y/ sound (“yee, yay, you”). 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, such as “ay.”

Next start testing your child’s ability to pronounce entire words that incorporate the / y/ sound—“young,” “yet,” “yellow.” Try finding a variety of words for your child to practice, not just ones that start with the /y/ sound—like “saying.”

Sentences including the /y/ should be the next step in achieving fluency with the / y/ 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 /y/ 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.