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What is typical speech and language development? Research says that a child will begin speaking between the ages of 10 to 14 months. Also, by the time they reach the age of 2, they should be able to complete 2 to 3 sentences while possessing a vocabulary of 150-300 words.

What if your child does not reach the average language milestone? After parents get over the initial concern, one of the first steps is to have your toddler evaluated by a speech and language pathologist. If they are diagnosed as having a speech delay, they will most likely receive speech therapy to better their communication skills.

But, in addition to speech therapy, there are other ways you can help help your child’s speech development.  Some examples include:

Reading for Speech Development

Reading to kids bedtime stories

Reading to your toddler helps them to be more familiar with the sounds and rhythms of language. Reading also improves their social skills and expands their vocabulary. So, as you read to them, encourage them to point at certain objects or colors, and motivate them to repeat certain words.

Moreover, reading books loaded with onomatopoeias (words that actually looks like the sound it makes, like Splash!) can further help. Indeed, besides reinforcing speech and early language development, onomatopoeias can be another fun way to get your toddlers to imitate you.

Flashcards

Flashcards are very popular and are often used by speech therapists during therapy sessions. Flashcards can also aid a child when it comes to visual memory and vocabulary skills.  In addition to expanding their word bank, you can use flashcards to work on specific sounds or to articulate words. 

Nursery Rhymes

“Skidamarink a dink a dink, Skidamarink a doo, I love you!”

As silly or funny as they may sound, nursery rhymes are known to help toddlers when it comes to memorizing. They are also a great tool to improve their communication skills. Indeed, not only do they help children pronounce and articulate, but they also expose children to new words, further building their vocabulary skills. From the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to “Skidamarink a doo,” singing along with your kids can further improve their speech and language development. 

Popular nursery rhymes you can sing at home with your toddler:

  • “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
  • “Skidamarink I Love You”
  • “Old McDonald Had a Farm”
  • “The Wheels on the Bus” 
  • “Bingo Song”
  • “Humpty Dumpty”
  •  “London Bridge is Falling Down”
  • “One Little Finger Tap, Tap, Tap”

Play for Speech and Language

Playing with your toddler is known to help boost their motor and social skills.  Moreover, studies show a connection between play and language development. Whether you work on target sounds revolving around the toys they are using, or you ask them to point at certain colors or objects, you can improve both their communication and social skills.

Daily Routines

While daily routines tend to be redundant, they can be great opportunities to further help your toddler’s language and speech development. For instance, during a diaper change, you can sing your child’s favorite lullaby to get them to interact with you. You can also make silly noises (onomatopoeias) for them to imitate. During mealtime, you can encourage them to repeat objects they see on the table (such as cups or spoons).

As well, describing the routine ahead of time can expose your toddler to new words and further build their language.

Use Technology to Boost Speech Development

Using speech apps like Speech Blubs is another method that can improve your toddler’s speech. This fun, interactive app not only motivates children to work on producing words and sounds (expanding their vocab), but it also works on their articulation skills through video modeling. 

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Parents work on speech skills with their children using the learning app

Sign Language

Studies show signing to your child can improve their cognition.

Although some may think sign language can hinder a toddler’s speech development, it is not the case. In fact, sign language can further develop a child’s language system, while also improving their learning. When interacting with your child, you can select words (eat, more, please, bed, potty, book, read, etc.) for them to sign while also prompting them to vocalize. 

What speech therapists want every parent to know about speech development

In addition to receiving speech therapy, parents and caregivers play an important role in their child’s communication skills. If you want your toddler’s speech to be better than average, therapy sessions alone won’t be enough. Interacting with your toddler every chance is extremely crucial to their language skills. Whether you choose to read, play, or sing to them, talking to them over and over and having them repeat the words or sounds they struggle with is key.

Last but not least, positive reinforcement is a must. Whether your toddler is able to say a word or attempts to say it, it is very important to praise their effort because not only does it motivate them to make more effort, but it also builds their confidence. 

Send Questions to Speech Blubs

Have a question for our Speech Therapists?

Leave them in the comments! If you want to get a personal answer from our speech therapist, write to
ask-a-therapist@speechblubs.com!

The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not necessarily reflect the views of Blub Blub Inc. All content provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgement, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

  • Hello people! My name is Gulnaz and Iam from Kazakhstan. I have been working as a speech pathologist for fifteen years and I love my job, because we are helping people. Everyone agrees with me that it does matter, we should all help each other and make this world better place to live.
    My tip for parents to develop their toddler`s speech is to start to concern about it at the early age and try to use every opportunity to talk to your kids, and even if it seems like he or she does not understand or do not pay any attention, believe me that this is not like that. Instead, it has been proven, that speech development starts only by imitating and to start to imitate they need to listen to their parents speech, because we are our children`s first teachers.
    I love English so much and I have been learning English for two years. I am so grateful that we have such abilities to learn new things, our brain and all senses. Thank you so much!

    • Nice to meet you Gulnaz! Thank you for your valuable advice to parents! Great work on your English too! 🙂

  • Hi I have a 2year 10months baby with microcephaly. She hasn’t developed speech yet not even Mom or dad. How can I assist her develop her speech. She understands a few instructions like sit or stand, come.

    • Thank you for your question. I have to ask you if your child is in speech therapy? If not, I suggest that you seek out services because they can provide you with more in-depth suggestions than I can! There are a few things you can do at home such as:
      1. Modeling all behaviors in simple language (brush your teeth)
      2. Read books and make sure you having her point to words as you read
      3. Do simple arts and crafts while explaining things such as colors and shapes

      I’m not sure where you are located, but some speech therapy practices are not doing in-person services because of COVID. You can ask for teletherapy, if you think your daughter can handle it!

      Stacie Bennett, M.S. CCC-SLP

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