Help! My Reader is Struggling with the Difference Between b and d!

Enrichment Therapies

February 21, 2023

Adult and child reading

Is your new reader struggling to differentiate between b and d? Don’t worry, this is a common error and there are strategies that have proven to be effective. 

We all know these letters look strikingly alike, so quickly identifying their differences can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are three fun (and sometimes silly) strategies to help your child learn and remember the difference between the letters b and d.

Belly-Diaper Rule

“What is that?” you may ask. The answer is this: while we are reading from left to right, we notice that the front side of the letter b has an arch that resembles a ‘belly’, and the back side of the letter d has an arch that resembles a ‘diaper.’ Silly, right? 

Start with teaching your child to identify which side of the line the arch falls on. Is it the front side or the back side? If it’s on the front side, that means it has a belly which tells us it is the letter b. If it’s on the back side, that means it has a diaper which tells us it is the letter d

Once your child feels confident in understanding this rule, ask them to identify the difference between these letters in isolation by using flashcards. After they have mastered this skill, transition to using these letters in words (e.g., big vs. dig, bill vs. dill), and then short sentences. 

C Makes D Rule

When we write the letter d, we first write the letter c which then turns into the tall letter d. When putting this strategy into action, see if your child can identify b and d by asking, “which letter has the c in it?” If they respond with the letter d, they are correct because c makes the tall letter d!

B and D Hand Trick. 

This trick is pretty simple– it’s when your left hand is able to form the letter b, and your right is able to form the letter d. This means that you will always use your left hand to form the letter b and your right hand to form the letter d

Ask your child to match their b or d hand to the letter on the paper. If your child gets to a b or d they are unsure of while reading, they can quickly form b and d with both hands, match it to the letter on the paper, then identify what the correct letter is.

Lean on ETLC For Extra Reading Support

By consistently practicing these strategies, your child will gain more and more confidence to correctly identify b and d. If you discover your child needs some additional support, Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center is here for you.

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs. At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center, our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success. Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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