One of the best things about having a toddler is watching, and listening, as their language develops. They go from making undecipherable goos, gahs, and grunts, to actually being able to carry on a small conversation with you. Talking with my kids is one of my most favorite things.
Every child begins talking in their own way and at their own time, and we have been blessed with early talkers. At her 18 month checkup, my daughter’s doctor said, “She should know between 10-30 words now.” We went home and counted because we knew it was more than that – she actually knew over 100!
But, besides having kids that naturally learn language early, I think there are some things that we did that helped to encourage talking in both of our kids. And remember, every child is so different, so even if they don’t talk as soon, or as well as you might like, there are always things you can do to help support their speech development.
Talk to Them
Of course talking with your child often, from the time they are very young and with lots of eye contact is how they will learn language the best. They learn from seeing and mimicking and repeating. So if you talk to them, chances are they will want to talk back.
No Baby Talk
We don’t baby talk to our kids, especially after the age of about 6-9 months when they start developing their first sounds. We talk in regular grown up voices, and even when they are babies, we talk to them they way we would talk to a older child.
Take Away the Pacifier
Now, this one may or may not make a difference. My daughter kept her paci until she was past 3 years-old and she always talked well. We took my son’s away when he was 19 months, and his talking took off after that. How to actually take away the paci is another topic for another day, but at least try to limit it to nap and nighttime so when your tot is awake and active, they can also be verbal.
We always ask our kids tons of questions about everything. Even if they don’t know the answer, or can’t verbalize the answer, they learn from hearing us telling them the answer and then they can repeat it if possible. It also includes them in the conversation, instead of all the talking just being between the adults.
Repeat Sounds and Words
When your little one starts to make sounds, especially ones that actually sound like a word, take the time to repeat the sound or word back to them along with some encouragement. So when they say, “mmaaa,” you say, “Mama, that’s right, mama.” Or as they get better at talking and they say, “Me do it!” You repeat, “You want to do it? Okay, good, you do it.” This helps them to hear and learn the correct way to pronounce things, and even correct grammer. You are encouraging their speech and teaching them at the same time. This is something that we did, and still do, all the time with our kids.
Sing With Them
Often kids can pick up the sounds in songs, or rhymes, earlier than they can pick up other words. Of course nursery rhymes seem like the simplest things for a kid to learn easily, but my son was reciting “No more monkeys jumping on the bed”, long before he could speak longer phrases like that.
Here’s a sweet video of my son singing his ABC’s when he was 20 months-old.
How do you encourage your toddler to talk?
Read more about how to understand your toddler in Temper Tantrums to Talking It Through