Help Your Toddler Develop Speaking Skills

If you want to help your toddler talk, there are some things you can incorporate into your everyday interactions that can help him or her learn to speak, or speak more proficiently. Here are some ideas.

Hold the Baby Talk

Experts agree that you should speak at a level that is on your toddler’s level, or a bit above it. Use short, simple phrases that are complete sentences, such as “That feels soft,” or “Look how big! Big blocks,” or “Throw the ball!” Using simple but complete sentences gives your toddler a model he or she may actually be able to emulate.

Even though nonsensical baby talk may be counter-productive, speech therapists point out that using a sing-song-y or lilting voice can be very effective in helping a toddler learn to talk. As you emphasize the vowel and consonant sounds in a word, try saying it in a lilting way, allowing your voice to rise above the pitch at which you normally talk and then fall as you complete the word.

Seize the Words

Therapists and other professionals note that repetition is vital for toddlers to learn new words. If you hear your toddler speak a word, seize the moment and repeat the word often. Show your toddler what object or person goes with that word, encouraging him or her to repeat the word until the brain forms a “pathway” that makes speaking that word an automatic response.

Taking this a bit further, make the word “come alive” with activities and games. For example, if your toddler’s first word is “ball,” play with all kinds of balls; make up games with them; point them out in the store. Each time you interact with a ball, say the word often and praise your toddler if he or she says the word again.

Describe the Object

Help your toddler build vocabulary and associate words with objects by playing a game. Gather an assortment of household items and ask your toddler to pick out the object that’s shiny, smooth, long, round, rough, blue, and so forth. Remember to emphasize the words with voice inflections and clear pronunciation.

Words in a Bag

Use up old paper bags by making them into little learning centers! Gather up several bags and, on the outside, write and illustrate the kind of objects you’re going to put in the bag. For example, label one bag “red” and have a big red circle on the front; another bag might be labeled “soft” and have a cotton ball taped to the outside. Then help you toddler gather objects to put into the bags. You can get these bags out and review the objects and what they’re called any time.

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