Knowing how to encourage speech in toddlers is a vital part of nurturing your child and helping them gain the skills and confidence they need to become well-rounded little humans. However, it can be all too easy to get caught up in focusing on milestones that they ‘should’ have reached by a certain age.
It’s important to remember that children grow and learn at different speeds and just because one child at nursery is forming almost perfect sentences, it doesn’t mean that your child is ‘behind’ in any way if they’re not doing the same.
Having said that, there are ages and stages that you need to pay attention to to ensure that your child is developing within the typical timeline so that you can identify and address language and speech problems early on if need be.
Whether you want to find out more about encouraging speech in toddlers or you’re worried that your child’s speech is delayed, Little Angels has some expert tips to help.
How to Encourage Speech in Toddlers
On their first birthday, your baby has officially reached toddler status – congratulations to your little one! Incidentally this is the best time to start teaching your child a second language. But for now, let’s take a look at how you can continue to encourage speech in your toddler in their first language now that they’ve turned one.
Encouraging Speech in Toddlers: 12 to 18 Months
– Gently Correct Pronunciation
Be careful not to criticise mispronunciation as this will deter your child from talking. If they get a word wrong, reinforce the correct pronunciation with a simple response that includes saying the word properly. For example, if they ask for a drink by saying “dink”, reply with something like “Yes, you can have a drink.”
– Sing Songs and Nursery Rhymes
Encourage speech in toddlers by singing simple songs and nursery rhymes. Songs with actions are particularly effective in helping small children learn to talk as performing the actions will help your child remember the words. Studies have also found that music improves young children’s responses to speech and learning.
– Read Bedtime Stories
Research shows that 55% of 0 to 2 year olds in the UK are not read to daily. But reading to your child (at any time of day!) will help to expand their vocabulary. Books that make noises or have tactile materials are especially effective at encouraging toddlers to speak as they are interactive and are more likely to elicit a vocal response.
Encouraging Toddlers to Talk: 18 to 24 Months
– Play Simple Quizzes
Help your child to learn new words by asking them to point to items or parts of their body and then asking them to repeat the name of the object. For example, “Point to your toes”, “Point to the window”, “Where’s the door?”
– Provide Easy Instructions
At this age, your child will be able to comprehend simple instructions. Asking your child to do something and them performing an action will help them link the word with what they are doing and will encourage them to speak, learn and use new vocabulary. Try “Get your shoes”, “Put your toys away” or “Choose a book to read.”
– Use Repetition
It’s a well known fact that even as adults repeating words helps us learn or remember them. The same goes for your child. Keep statements or questions simple so the focus is on the word you’re teaching them. Use short sentences such as “Let’s do your coat up”, “Where is your coat?” and “Is your coat yellow?”
Encouraging Toddlers to Talk: 2 to 3 Years
– Use Word Association
When you’re looking for ways to encourage speech in your older toddler, using words that are associated will help increase their vocabulary and make it more likely that they will want to chat with you. For example, show them an apple, an orange and a banana and then say the word “fruit”.
– Do Activities Together
At this age, many children love to help out or be involved in ‘grown up activities’. Use this new found desire to join in by talking about what you’re doing. When you’re in the supermarket, name the foods you’re putting in the trolley and tell them a little about them or what you’re going to cook with them.
– Speak in Longer Sentences
Encourage your child to speak slightly more advanced sentences by adapting your own speech. From around two upwards, most children have the ability to formulate simple sentences. So if your toddler says to you “Read book” reply with “Yes, we will read a book now.”
Encourage Speech in Toddlers by Making it Fun!
Whatever age we are, if we’re trying to learn something new it’s always easier and more motivating to do so if it’s fun. Or at least not deathly dull!
You want to help your toddler learn to talk – and if the process is engaging, regular speech development is far more likely to follow.
Again, we must stress that all children are different and at Little Angels we typically see a broad range of development in the children of similar ages that we care for. Speech delay can be present in some children, but this can be identified and addressed.
What Causes Speech Delay in Toddlers?
There are a number of factors that can cause speech delay in toddlers. These can be both physical and mental, as well as environmental and medical. For example:
– Hearing loss
– Autism spectrum disorder
– An oral impairment such as a problem with the tongue or palate
– Premature birth
– Neurological disorders – such as cerebral palsy
– Intellectual disability
– Lack of stimulation
Physical impairments such as a tongue-tie can be treated.
When it comes to a lack of stimulation, this is something that should be addressed. If your child isn’t already, it would be a good idea to consider the benefits of sending your child to nursery.
What To Do if You’re Worried About Toddler Speech Delay
The average two year old knows around 50 words and can form sentences of two or three words. By the time they reach three, their vocabulary will have jumped considerably to about 1,000 words. Their sentences will now be three or four words long.
If you’re worried about your toddler’s speech development, we encourage you to talk to your health visitor or doctor. If they recognise any signs or causes of speech delay in your toddler and they think it necessary, they will refer your child to your local speech and language therapy department.
Encouraging Speech in Toddlers at Little Angels
At Little Angels nursery, we are truly invested in your child’s wellbeing and development – in all areas of their lives. From the nutritious, organic snacks and meals that our nursery chef prepares, to encouraging your toddler’s speech, and motor and social skills, our caring family-run environment is a place where children are nurtured and cared for.
Find Out More About Little Angels
Are you looking for a nursery near Perkins Square? Find out what Little Angels has to offer your baby or toddler by downloading our brochure today.