How to Help Toddlers with the L and W Sounds: 6 Steps
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Reading to your toddler will help her learn to pronounce specific sounds.

Decoding toddler talk can be amusing at times. That little mouth of hers is still getting used to making all of those different sounds and movements. If she’s struggling with sounding out some of her letters, such as the L and the W, there are a few tricks that can help move her from practice to perfection.


  1. 1
    Be patient, and don’t worry. If your toddler is struggling with the L and W sounds, she’s not alone. This is a normal speech issue that many toddlers and preschoolers struggle with. According to Becca Jarzynski, a pediatric speech-language pathologist, the issue usually disappears by the time little ones head off to Kindergarten. So, don’t be hard on your child or yourself — this will likely pass with practice. If your concerns continue, though, contact your pediatrician and ask for a referral to a speech therapist.
  2. 2
    Read to your child every day. This helps her develop her language skills and introduces new words into her vocabulary. Choose books with plenty of pictures and rhyming. Also, be sure to enunciate the letters clearly, especially those L and W sounds. Dr. Seuss books work well for rhyming and the silly, colorful pictures will capture your child's attention.
  3. 3
    Chat with your child frequently. Get down to her eye level or bring her up to yours and have a conversation. Talk about anything, but be sure to talk about things that begin with the letters L or W — laundry, washing dishes, laughing. Face-to-face talking helps your child work on the sounds she’s having trouble with, as well as the ones she already knows. Clearly say the words and slightly exaggerate the mouth and tongue movements that go with the sounds. Encourage her to talk and to ask questions. Practice makes perfect.
  4. 4
    Work on the words that she’s having issues with. If she’s consistently making the same mistakes, such as substituting the W sound for the L sound, or if she's omitting certain letter sounds altogether, repeat the word that she is trying to say, but say it correctly with clear enunciation. You don’t have to point out her mistake; simply repeat the word and begin a conversation about it. Be sure to say the word in question several times. For example, if she says, “Wook at the wittle wamb,” you can reply, "Wow, that little lamb is so cute. Look at those long legs on the lamb. How many legs does the lamb have? Should we count the legs on the lamb?"
  5. 5
    Bring some silly activities into the mix. Place a bit of peanut butter on the back of your toddler’s top front teeth and have her lick it off. This will help her tongue get used to the correct formation when she makes her L sounds. For W sounds, place a straw in a glass of milk and have your child blow bubbles. This shapes her mouth into the right formation for that letter and lets her have some fun, too.
  6. 6
    Sing some silly songs with your toddler. Music is a great learning partner and it tends to get a little one’s attention. Make up some songs or sing ones that you already know. Get festive with “Deck the Halls” at any time of year — the “fa la la la la, la la la la” line of the song is quite the L-sound workout.

Things You'll Need

  • Books
  • Peanut butter
  • Milk
  • Straw
  • Glass

Article Info

Categories: Education and Communications

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