black mother kissing baby lying on blanket

Activities to help your toddler talk and develop language

Are you having trouble understanding your preschooler or are you concerned about their language development (or that they may need speech therapy)? Just because your toddlers or preschooler seems like a late talker does not always mean anything is wrong. Be sure to talk to your physician or a qualified speech therapist about your concerns.

Here are a few ideas for helping your child learn to talk. Do the first activities as long as your child enjoys them. Add new activities as he or she grows older.

When to Start Activities
birthHelp your baby learn how nice voices can be.
+ Sing to your baby, You can do this even before your baby is born! Your baby will hear you.
+ Talk to your baby. Talk to others when Baby is near. Baby won’t understand the words, but will like
your voice and your smile. Baby will enjoy hearing and seeing other people, too.
+ Plan for quiet time, Baby needs time to babble and play quietly without TV or radio or other noises.
3 monthsHelp your baby see how people talk to each other.
+ Hold your baby close so she or he will look in your eyes. Talk to Baby and smile.
+ When your baby babbles, imitate the sounds.
+ If Baby tries to make the some sound you do, Say the word again.
6 monthsHelp your baby understand words (even if he or she can’t say them yet).
+ Play games like Peek-d-Boo or Pat-a-Cake. Help Baby move her hands to match the game.
+ When you give Baby a toy, say something about it, like “Feel how fuzzy Teddy Bear is.”
+ Let your baby see himself in a mirror and ask, “Who’s that?” If she doesn’t answer, say her name.
+ Ask your baby questions, like “Where’s Doggie?” If he doesn’t answer, show him where.
9 monthsHelp your baby “talk” by pointing and using his or her hands.
+ Show Baby how to wave “bye-bye.” Tell baby “Show me your nose.” Then point to your nose. She will
soon point to her nose. Do this with toes, fingers, ears, eyes, knees, and so on.
+ Hide a toy while Baby is watching. Help Baby find it. Share her delight of finding it.
+ When baby points at or gives you something, talk about the object with her.
12 monthsHelp your child to say the words she or he knows.
+ Talk about the things you use, like “cup,” “juice,” “doll.” Give your child time to name them.
+ Ask your child questions about the pictures in books. Give your child time to name things in the picture,
+ Smile or clap your hands when your child names the thing that he sees. Say something about it.
15 monthsHelp your child talk with you.
+ Talk about what your child wants most to talk about. Give him time to tell you all about it.
+ Ask about things you do each day—”Which shirt will you pick daddy?” “Do you want milk or juice?”
+ When your child says just 1 word, like “doll,” repeat it with a little extra—”That’s Baby’s doll.”
+ Pretend your child’s favorite doll or toy animal can talk. Have conversations with the toy.
18 monthsHelp your child put words together and learn how to follow simple directions.
+ Ask your child to help you. For example, ask her to put her cup on the table.
+ Teach your child simple songs and nursery rhymes, Read to your child.
+ Encourage your child to talk to friends and family. A child can tell them about a new toy, for example,
+ Let your child “play telephone.” Have a pretend telephone conversation.
2 yearsHelp your child put more words together. Teach your child things that are important to know.
+ Teach your child to say his or her first and last name.
+ Ask about the number, size, and shape of things your child shows you. If it’s worms, you could say:
“What fat wiggly worms! How many are there? . . . Where are they going?” Wait watch, and listen to
the answer. Suggest an answer if needed: “I see five. . . . Are they going to the park or the store?”
+ Ask your child to tell you the story that goes with a favorite book.
+ Check your local library for programs for toddlers. Ask of your health clinic for other guides.
+ Don’t forget what worked earlier. For example, your child still needs quiet time. This is not just for naps.
Turn off the TV and radio and let your child enjoy quiet play, singing, and talking.

Are you concerned about your child’s speech development? Contact us and receive a free screening on Zoom from one of our professional speech therapists.