How to teach the M sound and How to teach your child to say Mommy!!


Emerges before 2 years of age  Typically mastered by girls and boys by 3 years of age

M is a bilabial sound-which means that your two lips come together.  M also is one of the three nasal sounds (which means that the air escapes out of your nose not out of your mouth).  M is one of the earliest sounds that children will acquire…..I guess that’s why we are called “mommy or mom or mama”-it’s easy to say!


Tactile Cue:

To help elicit this sound you can have your child feel the vibration M makes on your lips.  Have your child place her hands on your lips….and ask her if she feels the vibration M makes.  Next you can help her obtain lip closure (two lips together) by using your thumb and pointer finger to close her upper and lower lip.  Once she has her lips in the right placement,  take her hand again and place it on your lips,  you make the M sound…..and stretch the sound out….meaning make it continue… see if she can make it also.  Giving her the tactile cue (feeling the sound), helping her with placement of her lips by using your thumb and pointer and modeling (saying) the sound for her will help her to say the M sound.

Next be sure to try in syllables such as:  mama, mimi, meme, momo, mumu.  Then try in easy words such as: me, my, moo (cow sound).  Next in short phrases: Mom is nice.  Moo says a cow.  Remember to try and put the target word first….this makes it less challenging while your little one is mastering the sound.  Finally, into longer sentences.

Visual Cue/Physical Cue:

One last tip……to show her that M is a sound that continues like S….show her this: with your hands palm down on your lap…..move your hands down your thighs until you reach your knees.  As you are doing this….produce the M sound.  This visual cue shows her that M is a sound that continues.


Click on this link for M worksheet…these are M words in the initial position.INITIALMWORDS


Remember to follow the articulation process as indicated below:

1. Start off with the word in isolation-that means all by itself

2. Next word in short phrases.

3. Word in sentences.

4. Word in longer sentences.

5. Now try in conversation.





It is pretty safe to say that hearing your child call you mommy, mom, or mama probably is up there on your list of important words when your little one is not communicating.  I will use the term mama throughout this description….as that is what my kids call me….and that is why I am the speech mama….lol.  Anyway…I have been working since 1993 as a speech and language pathologist….and over the years…I know from experience how important the word mama is for a little one’s mother to hear.

There is one therapy session that I will never forget…and when I think about it….to this day…my body gets chilled….and it really brings tears to my eyes… before I get into that story…..I want to give you a few strategies that have worked for me….in helping little ones say Mama.

Now parents will say to me…I don’t understand…..she knows that I am the mama…..she comes to me for comfort….I have heard her repeat the word mama when I say it…..but she never ever ever calls for me when she wakes up in the morning while in her crib…..she never says my name when she needs to be comforted and she never asks for me.   So the goal is for us to teach your little one that the word Mama…..has meaning and that it will get your little one what she wants when she says it…..we need to teach her that saying “Mama” means something….making the connection between the word and the actual “mama”……once she learns and understands that the word mama means something…..she will begin to use mama with meaning.



Therapist and child should go inside the child’s room.

Mama should be on the other side of the door.

Mama should knock on the door.

Therapist in a very exaggerated way should say “Who is it!?”

Mama should knock again.

Therapist…with increased inflection and facial exaggeration should say “Who is it!?”

Therapist should open the door and shout: “Mama!”

Therapist, mama and child should engage in this activity a few more times….then stop and start this again on a follow up session.  Sooner or later your little one will say your name.



Same concept as above….however, cover mama with a blanket when the child is not looking…and in a fun and silly way….creep over to the blanket….and slowly take the blanket off……and shout Mama!   Continue this a few more times……end the play activity and engage in it again during a follow up session.


Have family make a video of mama hiding behind furniture in the house…..have mama “jump up” from behind the furniture….therapist then says “Mama!” everytime mom is seen……Continue this activity a few more times…end the session and follow up in the next session.


Make a photo album of all family members.  You should use a photo album that is small, easily held by your little one….and each page only holds one picture.  The picture should only contain one family member per picture….so each family member has his or her own picture.  Go through the book with your little one…and just name the person in the picture.  Do NOT place any language demands on your child….YOU do the talking.

Okay….so back to my story…..I will refer to the boy as Zach…..

Zach, his mom and I had engaged in the above activities over many sessions….and one day while looking at a picture photo album of his family members…..and while being videotaped (how amazing that this is on tape)……Zach looks at the family members pictures….he turns to the page of his Mama….he says Mama as he looks at the picture….then looks up at her and says…..”mama!”…….and that was it….he made the connection…..he knew that mama meant HIS mama….and from that day forward….he continued to say her name…..mama and I both cried that day.





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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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