How do I get my toddler to start talking?

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Tracy - posted on 12/09/2008

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All of the responses so far have been great. How old is your toddler? boy? girl? i believe the latest stats are that 1 in 4 boys have a speech delay of some kind... I'm a preschool teacher (2 & 3 yr olds) and it's true that children develop speech at their own pace, but if by 2.5 they are only saying a few words, ask your pediatrician for a speech evaluation - school districts offer this for free. Most importantly, talk to your child - avoid baby talk and use real words, kids comprehend and process long before they speak. narrate his life... "let's wear the blue shirt today, Look at that red car, what would you like for snack?" etc... in the bath, talk about his day, what you will do tomorrow, read books, point out pictures, try to avoid yes or no questions and offer him opportunities to speak. a late talker doesn't always mean there is a delay, but it's something to watch. if you are concerned, ask your ped. that's what they are there for. Most importantly, enjoy your child :)

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Ovonyoli - posted on 01/15/2015

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my baby is almost 19 months and not yet talking. i was letting nature take its own couse and allow him to talk when he is ready but recently i noticed he really struggles trying to understand what am saying and it got me concerned that maybe am not doing enough to help him develop language

Hilary - posted on 12/10/2008

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My younger daughter had a series of bad ear infections between the ages of 10 and 18 months - a critical period of speech development. After finally getting away from the doctor who kept prescribing the same antibiotic over and over again without success, she had surgery to insert tubes in her ears and immediately became a different kid... but her speech was delayed. Thankfully, we and her medical team noticed this fairly quickly and we got her on a list for the local hearing & speech clinic. It took a while, but once we got into the program her speech therapist was the best thing that ever happened to Kate: she was patient and methodical, and used a "hands-on" approach that Kate really responded to (she's always been a very tactile girl, understanding things far better if she can reach out and touch them). Therapy continued through her first year of school, and it made a huge difference.



Now, six years later, Kate still has moments where she can't figure out the right word to use or has trouble pronouncing something, but she generally is keeping pace well with her peers. I strongly suggest investigating (and hopefully eliminating) the possibility of any hearing or other physical problems (abnormal palate, autism, etc.), and then seeking out a reputable hearing & speech clinic in your area.



In the meantime, there are many things I've discovered along this journey that you can do at home:

- lots of reading books out loud together

- playing with simple toys and constantly identifying shape, colour, etc.

- pointing to objects around the house and identifying them

- music can be a great tool as well: all those silly songs that repeat things over and over again might drive us adults up the wall, but kids love 'em!

- don't let your munchkin watch too much TV - there's no interaction required to watch a television



Consider, too, the possibility of putting your child in a play group once or twice a week if you're a stay-at-home mom and/or your child isn't already in group child care on a regular basis. Interaction with peers is a great way of encouraging a child to communicate. Libraries, among other places, often offer such play group opportunities at no cost.



Above all, the most important thing is positive reinforcement of any attempts by your toddler to verbalize - repeating what was said, praising your child, rewarding your child (within reason, of course) if he/she uses the right word(s) to ask for something, etc. Good luck!

Maria - posted on 12/10/2008

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i had a friend that didn't talk tell he was three he can remember being scared that he would run out of words. just keep repeating words and sounds he makes . they need to hear you sounding like them then they will start to try and sound like you also. when showing the pictures repeat word often. children will develop when they are ready to. don't rush them that can hurt them more also give them options do you want the car or the blocks . this way you can see if there understanding you do you want juice or milk have them start by pointing to the thing they want and then praise them for choosing

Sherri - posted on 12/10/2008

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All of the responses so far seem to have hit on what I would suggest. I have a niece whose son wasn't speaking, and he was 2. The doctor did a hearing test, and found out he needed tubes in his ears, and wow, you should hear him now!

If his hearing is ok, and other approaches aren't working, then I would suggest a little tough love. If he has a favorite toy, or food...then tell him he can have it only if he says either the word, or please. It may seem harsh, but you have to remember you are his Mom, and have to be the one to teach him his basic skills. You spend the most time with him, I would assume. Always encourage him to ask for anything he wants, but be tough about his favorite thing, and don't give it. It may be an epic battle, but the end result is worth it.

Amanda - posted on 12/09/2008

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Talk to your toddler- no baby talk. Talk about everything. Work with your doc to know whether or not he or she is behind or not.

Skylar - posted on 12/09/2008

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Toddlers pick up a lot from you, so talk to them all the time, even if you are speaking to them in a level that is far above them. You can ask them questions and encourage them to use their words instead of whining, or grunting.

User - posted on 12/09/2008

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Talk to you child all the time about everything you're doing- which I'm sure you probably already do.Read, read, Read, too! Baby sign books worked great for us. There are board books with photos of kids signing common items like drink, food, more, etc. My daughter started signing want she wanted before she could talk at 8 months old.She loved signing and I truly believe that it helped with her verbal expression and research backs this up. She was able to "voice" what she wanted early and led to natural progression to speech. By the time she was 15 months she was talking in 4-5 word sentences. Your local Parents as Teachers group could also really be of assistance to you. You school district should have a program. Many offer Baby Sign workshops for parents and parent educators can help identify speech and language delays that might be of concern.

Sherry - posted on 12/09/2008

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If your child points to what they want, don't give it to them until they try to say what it is. If you just give it, they think that's all it takes to get it-why talk?

Jovanne - posted on 12/09/2008

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I've heard of children not talking until they are 3 years old. I heard you have to start making it a reward system almost. For instance, don't give them want they want unless they ask for it, or at least attempt to say the word (Milk, juice, blanky, etc.). I'm not to that point yet though with my little one, so I don't know what it's really like! Good luck!

Janice - posted on 12/09/2008

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My son just turned 2 and only says 3 words. I started him in speech therapy through First Steps about 3 mos. ago and it is starting to work. I have a lot of picture books and every day we look at them. I try to emphasize the sounds of what the picture is and he is starting to mock me when I do it. Before therapy he wouldn't even do beginning sounds or any type of talking. I hope this helped some.

Angel - posted on 12/09/2008

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There are a lot of little things you can do. When there is something your know your little girl wants, before you give it to her coach her in what you want her to say."I want milk, drink..snack..cookie.." then when she makes a good effort you reward her with whatever it is she was asking for. You point out objects and say the name of the object and what its for or what it does.."Doggie, dog.. goes woof..woof.." Carry on conversations with her.. you may not understand her very well, but I'm sure she's trying in her own way :) But the one thing that I would strongly recommend is reading, reading, reading. Then let nature take it's course. Babies will talk when they are ready.. not when you are, or grandma or anyone else.. when they are, so just be patient. Are you worried about developmental issues?

Corrie - posted on 12/09/2008

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All children develop at their own pace. If you have kept up with regular medical check ups and know that there isn't anything wrong with his/her hearing, then you probably just need to be patient. My nephew didn't really start talking until he was three, and now he wont stop. Don't be too quick to assume that there is something wrong and be careful what you wish for, my daughter started talking when she was two, and she hasn't stopped for six years. ;)

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