3 months Week 1 – Getting Started on Consonants!

Up until now your child has been cooing and starting to vocalize using vowels such as /a/. And around this time you may start hearing sounds such as “brrr” and an occasional bilabial sound.  Bilabial sounds are sounds made with both lips. For instance, Roman said /b/ recently and I think we’re also starting to hear a soft /m/ occasionally. Ways you can encourage consonant production are below…

 Tactile Cues

We know many speech pathologists that are trained in

PROMPT, which is basically a technique that uses tactile cues on a person’s articulators (eg – their lips, tongue, and jaw) to aid them in producing specific sounds, words, phrases, and sentences. However, as a parent you do not have to be formally trained in a technique in order to promote sound production for your baby. We find that it helps to close your eyes and say the sound. Think about what articulators you are using and how long or short the sound is. You can even feel your throat to see if there is a vibration.  Taking what you feel and hear, create your own tactile cue!  For example, for the /b/ sound your lips come together and it is a short sound with vibration. Therefore, you can use your fingers to quickly bring your baby’s lips together as you produce the sound to model it for them. You can even have them feel your lips as you produce it or even have them feel your throat.  Using all your senses is key!

 Facial Cues

Baby Looking in Mirror

Some children as you know aren’t huge fans of being touched and they may respond better to visual cues rather than tactile cues.  In this case, we again urge you to close your eyes and really think about how a specific sound is produced. You can then model it on your face by drawing attention to specific articulators. For instance, if you choose the /b/ sound where your lips come together you can try to draw attention to your lips by pointing at them. Make sure your child is looking at you so that they are taking it all in!  You can even give it a shot in the mirror.  A person we love and admire is Pam Marshalla who has created place cues for both consonants and vowels.

 Video Modeling

One of our favorite things to use during therapy is video modeling to help promote expressive language, receptive language, positive behavior, etc. It can also be used to promote consonant production in babies. You can of course verbally model certain sounds for your children, but sometimes children respond better to video modeling of same-aged peers doing the desired action. Simply take a video of another child or find a video on YouTube where a baby is producing a sound you want your child to say and show it to them. You can pause it to allow your child to attempt to produce the target sound.  They may not say it right away, but it would encourage them to at least engage in basic turn-taking. The more they see how certain sounds are produced the more likely they are to produce it!

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