How to Make a Toddler Talk: Giving Your Toddler the Gift of Gab
New parents often can’t wait to hear their baby speak. While googling “how to make my toddler talk” is a good way to begin your child’s language journey, there are a few key things every parent should do to get their toddler started with learning to speak.
Teaching Your Toddler to Talk
A toddler’s language of knowledge expands at a rapid rate. Between the ages of 2 – 3, children’s words expand from 20 – 200 words at two-years-old to around 1,000 words at three-years-old. What is the catalyst for this rapid vocab expansion? The parents.
The following guide details everything needed to make your toddler talk:
Toddlers are growing in their knowledge of words, but they need the practice to learn how to properly form and pronounce them. In order for your child to build the necessary muscles, parents must focus on teaching their child to articulate.
Consider the following tips for articulation:
Use a Mirror
With a mirror handy, parents can help their children pronounce words. Showing your child the way your mouth moves when you say certain words and letters in the mirror will allow them to do the same. As they watch themselves through the mirror, they’ll be able to get a better understanding of how to properly move their mouth.
Use Tissues for “P”
Toddlers often struggle with the letter “P”. Use a tissue to help your child understand how to form the letter. Holding the tissue a few inches from your toddler’s mouth, practice saying “P” with your child. As they repeat the letter, they’ll watch with excitement when they see the tissue move.
Use Peanut Butter to Make Your toddler Talk
Believe it or not, peanut butter can play a significant role in your child’s language learning. If your toddler isn’t allergic to peanut butter, place a dab of it behind their front teeth. Then, ask them to touch it with their tongue.
As they touch the peanut butter, explain that this is the spot they will use to say letters like “T” and “D”.
Build Their Vocabulary
As your toddler gets the hang of pronouncing their first few words, it’s time to expand their vocabulary. One of the best ways to make your toddler talk is by narrating the day’s activities. As you go through your day with your toddler, explain basic activities like putting on shoes, brushing your teeth, or making food.
When adding to your toddler’s vocabulary, try the following tips:
When introducing new words, don’t just use it once. Come up with different sentences that use the same word in other ways. While your child won’t always pick up new words immediately, repetition will help reinforce the sound of this word in your child’s memory.
Oftentimes, toddlers need to listen to particular phrases and words multiple times before it becomes a staple in their vocabulary.
When building your child’s vocabulary, make sure to be descriptive. Think about the five senses as you speak to your child. Always talk about how certain things taste, feel, look, and sound to help engage your toddler’s creativity. For example, when at the grocery store, introduce new fruits and vegetables by touching them, describing their color, and saying their name repeatedly.
Focus on Comprehension
When attempting to make toddlers speak, parents need to prioritize comprehension. This is how children make sense of the way their newly learned words are used.
The following activities will help to improve a toddler’s comprehension of language:
Play Simon Says
Playing Simon Says is an excellent way to teach your toddler comprehension and make your toddler talk. The parent should use simple instructions to help their children to grasp the meaning of new words. These instructions can include telling your child to pick up a ball or to show you their hand will help stimulate their comprehension abilities.
Start Scavenger Hunts
Take advantage of your toddler’s love of running and exploring by setting up a scavenger hunt to make your toddler talk. Hide their favorite toy or a secret surprise and give them easy clues to help them understand their words. Instructions like, “Look in front of the blue chair” will allow them to understand what their vocabulary means in relation to the real world.
Don’t Forget to Demonstrate
Toddlers learn their biggest language lessons from emulating their parents. Parents can do everything from playing music to scheduling playdates with other toddlers to make your toddler talk.
Sing Songs and Repeat Them
Singing songs is an excellent way to teach a toddler how to speak. However, this language lesson needn’t end when the song is over. After you’ve finished singing, repeat these lyrics back slowly so they understand what words are being said. After your toddler has grasped the song, encourage them to sing it out loud on their own.
Talk on the Phone
Parents looking for an innovative way to teach their child how to speak should break out the play phone. Get your toddler talking by pretending to have a conversation on the phone. Keep the game going by passing the phone on to the toddler and encourage them to start talking.
Help your child get creative by pretending Grandma, Grandpa, or the neighbors are on the phone.
Another way to make toddlers talk is to have them chat with their friends. When your child hears other children of the same age talking to one another, they’ll want to start communicating as well. By planning more playdates, parents will encourage their children to practice their speaking and improve their communication and social skills.
Point out Tongue Trippers
As toddlers are just learning to form many of their new words, they tend to have trouble with many difficult consonants like M, B, P, T, J, and K. As they grow, they may have difficulty with L, th, sh, and ch sounds, as well as S and R.
Experts say that it may take some children until elementary school to be able to master the perfect pronunciation. However, parents should keep an ear out for any difficulties with the aforementioned letters and sounds when trying to make toddlers talk. If you can’t understand the majority of what your toddler is saying by three years old, there may be a problem. In the situation where a three-year-old toddler doesn’t talk or babble and communicates with grunts, it is time to speak to a doctor.
Consider the following best practices when working on language lessons with your child:
- Talk: Talking to your child will help to build their vocabulary. Whether you’re narrating your day or you’re reading to them, the more you talk, the more opportunities they have to listen.When your child starts saying words like “ball”, “Mom”, and “Dad”, take these words and repeat them back by expanding them. This method is known as language expansion and expands your child’s utterance, without adding new information.
- Listen: When trying to make your toddler talk, you must also take time to listen. Children need to know their parents are paying attention and are listening to them. By engaging with your child during their babbling, singing, and speaking, you are letting them know that they are important to you and what they’re saying matters.
- Avoid Baby Talk: Many parents find baby talk to be adorable, but most experts discourage speaking this way all together. The only baby talk that should be had are the words coming from your infant. These shortened versions of real words are part of their natural development, but it is the job of the parent to enhance their linguistic abilities and reinforce words the way they should be said. Do this by using language expansion with the correct versions of these baby words.
- Be Animated: Parents hoping to make their toddler talk should remember to be animated. With a lot of facial expression and melodies, parents will find that their baby is able to focus better and learn faster.
- Limit Your Child’s Screen Time: TV’s, tablets, and laptops aren’t able to teach toddlers language. While Baby Einstein and Sesame Street have their roles, parents can’t rely on them completely. To teach children communication and language, parents need to be interactive.
Every child will learn to speak in their own time. However, parents looking to strengthen their child’s communication skills should keep this information in mind. By practicing the methods in this guide to make your toddler talk, any parent will be able to help their child grow during these beginning stages of their language learning journey.