Practicing /t/ and /d/ Sounds

t and d sounds

How to Practice /t/ & /d/ Sounds

When looking at the developmental milestones for speech sounds, /t/ and /d/ are two of the earliest sounds to develop. The /d/ sound is mastered by 2-3 years old, while the /t/ sound is generally mastered around 3-4 years old. A great part about both sounds is that they are produced in the same part of the mouth. To produce /t/ and /d/, the tip of the tongue raises up behind the teeth to touch a bumpy spot called the alveolar ridge. Simultaneously, the sides of the tongue also raise up and touch the back teeth, the molars. 


Tips for Practicing at Home

Since /t/ and /d/ are produced in the same part of the mouth, the key difference between both sounds is voicing. The /d/ sound is voiced. In other words, when we produce /d/, we are “turning on” our voice or using our vocal cords. The /t/ sound is not voiced. Rather than using our vocal cords, a quick burst of air is released outside the mouth. When helping a child with both sounds, I enjoy using the following strategies:

  1. Visual feedback- place a piece of paper or tissue in front of your child’s mouth. When they produce /t/, the paper/tissue will move. For /d/, the paper/tissue will stay still. 
  2. Sensory feedback/stimulation- place a soft food that will stick behind your child’s front teeth (i.e. nutella, peanut butter, yogurt, etc.). When they produce either sound correctly, they will touch the food behind their teeth. 
  3. Tactile/Sensory/Visual cue- place your child’s finger on their throat when they produce their /d/ sound. They will feel the vibration of their vocal cords. Tapping their throat or making a gesture with your hand, as if you were turning something on, also serves as a visual reminder to turn on or turn off their voice. 


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