This is my third child, and so I'm not too worried, etc...

I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts on how to encourage or work towards combining sounds a toddler already knows (in this case "s" with any other sounds) into more complex sounds.

My toddler can make multiple syllables of various sorts, and can make all the vowel sounds I give him. I will occasionally run him through a particular consonant combined with all the vowels following (gee gih gai gah guh goo goh, etc), which he does well enough for many consonants. He can make an "s" sound, but when I start with "see" or "sah" he uses something between a "t" and "d". It's the same with any word I try to get him to say starting with "s" :-/

Again, not too worried (he'll figure it out eventually), but would love to hear any other ideas on games or ways to encourage it :-)

  • All I can say is it comes with time, and you can practice and encourage, but can't push a child ahead of their ability to speak. Our son could say "mu" and "sic" just fine, but when we asked him to repeat after us ("music") he would invariably say "mucous". Which we thought was hilarious. There is so much to celebrate in their individuality! Jan 27, 2016 at 0:45

1 Answer 1


I found an interesting article about speech development, but it doesn't address your question, so I can only answer with anecdotal evidence.

There are people who can stick their pinkie fingers in either side of their mouth and make a high-pitched whistle. Many of us learn the more common form of folding our tongues up and blowing sound out through pursed lips. The only way I learned the latter was by my mother spending a lot of time showing me and having me practice while not facing her (she was not fond of being spit upon). No one ever showed me the first method and, just seeing and hearing the end result, I have never learned to duplicate it.

I give that background because it is the foundation of how I worked with my daughter in learning speech -- I over-dramatized the making of sounds and playing with words with large facial expression and as open a mouth as was possible, then encouraged her to do the same.

I believe it helped her to see (not just hear) how I made the various sounds so that she could them mimic them. The "s" sound is rather challenging: the teeth largely hide the tongue's role. Combine that with a transition to another sound and that tongue just wants to jump up (making a "t"/"th" sound)!

The more you patiently play with the sounds in a back-and-forth manner so that it is fun, silly, and ultimately results in success, the more likely your child is to pick up the "correct" pronunciation... And, if it doesn't happen immediately at least you get to make some funny sounds together!

  • yeah, his s is almost a very hissy th, but it's pretty clear. it seems he's got the "I don't hear myself, so I sound exactly like you" syndrome that I think all kids start with and eventually get over. His two older brothers were pretty advanced with speech, so it's a bit harder to be indifferent with him and let him just do it when he's ready. I know the environment is different and we give him less attention than the others got, etc. so I just have to keep reminding myself that he'll get it eventually :-) Feb 8, 2016 at 14:53

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