How to teach the B and P sound

Teaching the B and P sound is pretty easy to do…when you have the right strategies.  B and P are both bilabial sounds….which means that they are both made with the movement of your two lips coming together.  They are bilabial sounds….and they are also stop sounds.  This means that they are sounds that do not continue… in the S sound.  So when I classify sounds….I classify the B and P sound as: Bilabial-stops.  The only difference between the two is this: when you make the B sound your vocal folds move….and when you make the P sound your vocal folds do not move.  I tell the little ones….motor on (vocal folds moving or vibrating) and motor off (vocal folds are not moving or not vibrating).

B and P are such visual letters….because you can see how the sound is made…the lips move together….and the cues I use to help elicit the sounds…give the little ones additional stimulation to make it easier for them to coordinate and make the sound.  

The P sound is considered to be a bilabial sound.  This means that you are using your lips together to make this sound.  It is an unvoiced sound, which means that your vocal folds do not vibrate/move when you make this sound. 

Visual Cue/Physical Cue:

To help your child produce this bilabial sound it is good to give her a visual cue/physical.  Which means that you are showing her what the sound “looks like” or the type of sound it is.  By this I mean……I like to teach children to understand the difference between a short sound that stops (like the P sound), a long sound that continues (like the S sound) or a vibrating sound/motor on sound (like the G sound).  When working on the P sound I use a specific physical cue to help the child “see” and “feel” what the sound is like…….the cue I often use during therapy works just like this (and remember your child’s speech and language pathologist may have one that works better for your child and elicits the sound more effectively).  Use the cue that works best for you and your child. 

Okay, now back to the cue:  Make a fist with your hand and then open up your fingers as fast as you can.  While doing this action, produce the P sound.  Have your child watch you and then help her to do the same with her hand. 

Tactile Cue:

You can also have your child feel the puff of air that comes out of your mouth when you make the sound.  That gives her a tactile cue….she feels the air on her hand.  I find in therapy that the more cues that I give a child, the easier it will be for her to make the sound. 

Verbal Cue:  Be sure to give her a verbal cue-this means that you are modeling the sound for her so that she can hear the correct pronunciation of the sound.  You can produce the sound in different vowel combinations.  Once she is able to make the sound, try it with different vowel combinations such as the following: Pa, pa, pa.  Pe, pe, pe. Po, po, po and Pi, Pi Pi. 

Melodic cue: When saying the sounds be sure to put a little bit of melody to what you are saying….music is on the right side of the brain and language is on the left.  When we tap into the right and left side at the same time…it makes it easier for your child to say the sound.  I often give parents the bologna example.  If you can’t remember how to spell bologna don’t you sing the bologna song????  B O L O G N A.

Fun tip for P: Hold a tissue in front of your child’s mouth….about an inch and a half away….ask her make the P sound……when she makes the P sound…..she should be able to see that her puff of air made the tissue move.  I also do this with small colorful scarves.




Remember to practice sounds using the order of articulation:

1. Target sound in syllables: Pa, pa, pa, pe, pe, pe, pi, pi, pi (I usually practice the target sound followed by a vowel…working through all of the vowels).

2. Target sound in single words

3. Target sound in words….. in short sentences: Pig is pink

4. Target sound in words….. in longer sentences: Pigs like to play in the mud.

5. Target sound in words in conversation.




The B sound is also considered to be a bilabial sound-this means that your two lips work together in order to make this sound-they are making closure (lips together).  The only difference between the B sound and the P sound is that when you make the B sound your vocal folds vibrate.  Sometimes I tell the children that their “motor is on” when they make this sound.

Visual Cue/Physical Cue and Tactile Cue:

Make a fist with your hand and gently bang on a table or on your thigh while producing the B sound.   You should ask your little one to do the same.  This cue is showing your child that the B sound is a sound that stops.  The S sound is a sound that continues during production, however, the B sound stops.  So be sure to demonstrate to your little one……by gently banging you fist on a table or your thigh. 

While you bang your fist on the table place your other hand on your throat so that you can feel the vibration of your vocal folds.  Now when practicing with your child-you can do the movement with your hand making the fist and have her do the same with her fist…..and while you are both doing this….have her take her own hand and feel the vibration on your throat.  Be sure to explain to her that “your motor is on”.  By saying “motor on” you are telling her that her vocal folds are moving/vibrating.  The B sound is a stop sound…..and a motor on sound. 

By using the physical cue (fist banging on table) and tactile cue (feeling vibration of the vocal folds) you are telling her two things: showing her that the B sound is a sound that stops and does not continue like the S sound and that when making the B sound your vocal folds move.

Verbal Cue:

Be sure to always model the production of the target sound.  Remember this means that you are demonstrating how the B sound should sound like when produced correctly.  When she is ready….have her practice the B sound followed by vowels, then in simple words, next short phrases and then in longer sentences.

Melodic cue:

Remember to use melody as a cue when producing target words.  It is easiest when the word has more than one syllable.  Words like: baby, baker, butter, and birdie.  Be sure to change your pitch and inflection…..that will help her to say the word. 








About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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