Soon, gone will be the days of sleepless nights and hours of crying to get needs met. Instead, your wee little one is eventually going to learn to speak to communicate his or her needs. Contrary to popular belief, language is acquired naturally and does not require formal teaching from parents and caregivers. Having said that, many parents wonder how to teach toddler to talk sooner, or even how to get their toddler to talk at all if he or she isn’t saying words yet.
That is why, we at Yellodoor have created this curated guide of useful tips and tricks to help you not only get your toddler to talk sooner. In this guide you’ll also find tips on how to get them to be more articulate and to acquire more vocabulary words. Maybe you’ll even to give your toddler a mental and academic boost along the way!
How to Teach Toddler to Talk: Top 10 Tips
Here are the top 10 tips for you to do in order to start with how to teach toddler to talk:
- Talk to Your Baby
- Simplify It
- Grab Their Interest
- Make It Routine
- Read Stories
- Make the Most of Outings
- Be Intentional
- Limit Barriers
- Don’t Hold Back
- Praise Them
#1: Talk to Your Baby
And we aren’t talking baby-talk, here.
In fact, baby-talk is the opposite of what you want to be doing when teaching toddler to talk. Rather than calling water “wa-wa”, for example, you’ll want to opt for using the actual name, instead.
And though it may feel weird at first, be sure to include your currently silent little baby in on conversations, and wait for him or her to reply. Though it wouldn’t seem to make a difference, you are actually teaching your child the rules of socialisation and giving them a sense of what it feels like to be in a conversation. With time, those awkward silences will turn into back and forth conversations with real meaning!
In the meantime, give your baby plenty of smiles, pauses and opportunities to speak until one day, he or she finally does!
#2: Simplify It
While you won’t want to be baby-talking to your baby or toddler, you also won’t want to be overloading his or her brain, either. Slow down, and most importantly, simplify what you are saying that your little one can pick up the words you are using and, eventually, utilise those words themselves.
Saying things like “Open!” instead of “Open this container and take out a toy!” can get your child acclimated to what the word “open” actually means. Overtime, you’ll be able to add more words to your phrases and your child will be able to understand the words you use. Until then, however, simplicity is your best bet for introducing your child to new vocabulary words.
#3: Grab Their Interest
Does your baby love trains, animals or splashing in water? Do they have a favourite book or toy?
Capitalise on their interests by using them to teach toddler to speak new words. Verbally label each item as you play or engage in your child’s favourite activities and think of creative ways to introduce your child to new vocabulary. Ask questions, describe items and point out colours, numbers and shapes associated with those items as you go to make the most of your child’s interests in relation to language acquisition and development.
#4: Make It Routine
And this is possibly one of the most important tips on the list. Labelling everyday objects, talking to your baby, facilitating conversation and more should all be a part of your ongoing daily routine.
As you go about your day, be sure to get on the floor and involve yourself with your little one. Verbally label toys and objects your little one frequently plays with and expand their knowledge when appropriate. With frequency and repetition, you may be surprised how much your baby picks up on.
#5: Read Stories
Reading books to your baby or toddler is one of the most special and important things you can do for your child, as books offer many benefits that other toys and gadgets don’t. By reading books frequently to your child, you expose him or her to a world of new languages, illustrations and even tones and nuances in your voice. Depending on the book, your baby may also begin to pick up rhythms and rhymes, and may begin to mimic those same attributes in their own speech.
Not to mention, book reading is downright fun! With the extra time you invest in reading to your child, it is likely that you’ll begin to foster a love for books in your little one, and you may find him or her gravitating to books on their own for years to come.
#6: Make the Most of Outings
Taking a trip to the grocery store? Pop your baby on your hip or carrier, or plop your toddler in the cart and dictate your adventure. As you grab a bag of chips or can of vegetables off of the shelf, tell your baby or toddler what you’re doing, and potentially, why you are doing it.
Saying things like, “I’m going to grab a can of green beans, today. They’ll go great with what we are having for dinner” is a simple way to explain to your child what you are doing and to take interest in what you are saying.
Another great way to make the most of an outing is to take your child somewhere new. With their interest already peaked in a new adventure, he or she is bound to want to learn all about their new environment. So take advantage of the opportunity and chat on!
#7 Be Intentional
If we could sum up the aforementioned points into one phrase this would likely be it. Being intentional about what you are teaching your child and how you are teaching it can make a vast difference in your child’s speech habits.
One way to intentionally foster language development and acquisition in your child is to set up “language baskets” for him or her to play with with you being present. To do this, take any basket, container or holder of sorts, and fill it with random items. These items can be of categorical nature, such as food or animals, or could be random items from around the house. You could even grab items that are already grouped together, such as your kitchen fruit basket or first aid kit.
Set the basket or container in front of your child, and allow your child to sift through the items. As your child does so, name each item that you child picks up and allow him or her to explore that item on their own. You may begin to notice your child picking up objects and making eye contact with you, or holding the object out for you to name. This activity not only introduces your child to names of objects and vocabulary, but can also introduce them to new items they may have never been exposed to.
Of course, as always, be sure that whatever you put in your language baskets are age-appropriate and safe. If you aren’t sure if an item is safe for your child, it is better to not take the risk.
#8: Limit Barriers
Though television and radio can, at times, be helpful in the expansion of language in older years, it is actually recommended that babies avoid screens for the first 18 months. Studies suggest that the devices we use in our everyday lives have a negative impact on language acquisition and development. It may also be more difficult for your baby to acquire the skills that he or she needs when there is ongoing background noise, as nuances, intonation and new words you use may be harder to distinguish against the backdrop of a noisy environment for your little one.
#9 Don’t Hold Back
Although we generally want to keep things simple when we are talking to our babies and toddlers, this doesn’t necessarily mean we need to withhold adjectives or the correct names of objects and places to help our babies and toddlers understand.
In fact, as previously mentioned, watering-down the correct names for objects and places and replacing them with baby-talk will do more harm than good.
So, rather than say, “Look there is a dog!” you may want to say, “Look there is a Golden Retriever!” Indeed, your child may begin to associate that particular dog as being a “golden Retriever” rather than just a “dog”.
In the same way, if you hear your child point and say something like, “I see a car!” you might expand on what he or she said by saying “Yes, I see the bright blue car!”
Last, but certainly not least, always be sure to praise your child for the attempts that he or she is making to speak, even if it isn’t on-par with what you’d expect.
Depending on your child’s age, your baby or toddler may not be able to pronounce certain words or letter sounds, and as such, you correcting them constantly isn’t going to make a difference. In fact, if you over-correct your child in these areas, he or she may become discouraged and may not want to speak at all.
Rather than harping on your child and attempting to force them to say words the correct way, make praises for the attempts that he or she is making. If your child says something like, “Wa-wa” for water, you may respond by saying, “Would you like some of your water?”
Again, do not use the same baby language that your baby does but understand that when he or she does it, it may be that they aren’t yet ready to say the actual words. As the parent or caregiver, you can gently nudge your child in the right direction by stating the correct names for items and places by repeating what they said the proper way, so as not to discourage your little one.
How to Teach Toddler to Talk: Encourage Your Toddler into Speech
In addition to the tips above, there are a few other ways in which you might get your baby or toddler to start talking if they haven’t already. Here’s more tips on how to encourage your toddler to talk.
Although sign language can be fun and intriguing for little ones to learn early on when they can’t speak and can be uniquely useful for children who have trouble communicating in general, in reality, hand gestures may stunt language development if it is allowed as a substitute for talking.
Once your child reaches the age where he or she can say certain age-appropriate words, you should encourage them to do so without the use of hand gestures as an alternative. If your child wants more milk, for example, do not allow your child to simply gesture for milk. Rather, ensure that your child says, or makes an attempt at saying “milk” before you proceed to giving it to him or her.
Remember, to keep your child’s age and developmental ability in mind when doing this. Never withhold legitimate needs from your child because he or she can’t communicate with you the way you want them to, especially if he or she isn’t developmentally ready.
Additionally, for a bit of fun, consider singing popular nursery rhymes to your little one with hand gestures. The repetitive nature of nursery rhymes along with the learnable and predictable movements will make the song a fun exercise in language and vocabulary building skills that you and your child can enjoy, together.
Lastly, try slowing down as you speak and drawing out your words so that your little ones, and especially babies, can see the formation and movement of your mouth as you say particular words. You’ll be surprised at how much this may help your baby, and you might find your little one imitating those sounds right back!
Baby Speech Timeline
If you’re wondering specifically, “When do toddlers talk?”, know that communication does, indeed, start at birth. From their first cries, babies use their set of lungs to belt out their emotions. But what about after that? When do those first words appear?
As you may already know, your little one will begin cooing and even making consonant sounds within the first few months of life. By six to seven months, your baby might start repetitively saying “ga-ga” or grunting as a means of communication.
By 12 months, your little one may be saying “mama”, “dada” and even a few other words they’ve picked up along the way.
But a year and a half, your little one will likely slowly begin to build his or her vocabulary, and may begin talking and asking one word questions.
By the age of two, all bets are off. Your toddler will enter a language “explosion” in which he or she could be picking up as many as nine words per day!
How to Teach a Child to Speak Properly
When your toddler forgets words or you are wondering how to get toddler to speak in sentences, you need to remember one thing, and one thing alone: patience.
As your toddler stumbles through his or her words, or spits out a few poorly put together phrases at a time, you must remember that he or she is still learning. Give your child time, smiles and space to complete his or her thoughts before you jump in with corrections or try to finish his or her statement for them.
Moreover, because language acquisition begins at the newborn stage, it is vital that you pay attention to your own speech patterns because, more than likely, your child will end up speaking like you, whether you like it or not. Therefore, watch what you say and how you say it and be sure to make the most of your conversations because, one day, you’ll look up and notice you’ve got a chatterbox on your hands… a chatterbox that sounds a whole lot like you!
Learning Lessons For 1 Year Olds
For a one-year old child, it may help to purchase toys that encourage talking such as puzzles, play animals, baby dolls and books. The more exposure to language the better. Be sure to use the correct words for objects and places, and be sure to do away with hand gestures when appropriate in order to maximise your child’s use of speech.
As your one-year old becomes more confident and comfortable with talking, encourage them with plenty of praise and smiles without too much over-correcting.
Can 2 year Olds Talk?
Yes, yes and yes.
In fact, once your child reaches two years old and hits the “language explosion” phase, you’re likely going to know it. Suddenly, you child will begin asking “Why?” and “What’s that?” about virtually everything. Despite how annoying it eventually becomes, it is vital that you answer your child’s questions as he or she explores the world around them.
It is at this age that your toddler will know between 20-200 words and will also be able to understand and follow simple directives such as, “Come here” or “Give daddy the cup”. This is a great time to start singing with your two year old and engaging in purposeful activities that expose your little one to new vocabulary words, as he or she takes in everything you say.
As with one year olds, be sure to take full advantage of toys that facilitate talking to further expand your child’s vocabulary.
Routine and Purposeful Language Development Is Key
Remember, it isn’t as much about “teaching” your baby or toddler to talk as it is fostering their language development and expanding their vocabulary.
As you go throughout your day, don’t forget to engage your little one in conversation and to expose him or her to new terms and phrases they’ve never heard before. Over time, you can expect your child to grow leaps and bounds in terms of language, and this is especially true when you incorporate book reading into your routine. Before you know it, you might have a little one who not only can speak, but can wrangle back and forth with you about why they shouldn’t have to stay in their bed at night!
For even more tips on how to encourage toddler speech, check the link to get your baby or toddler headed in the right direction.