Helping your toddler to talk

 

Babycenter’s latest report advices mothers how to improve talking at their toddlers. The more you chat to your toddler, the more opportunities she is likely to have to learn how to talk. But bear in mind that all children are different and learn to talk at different rates.

The more fun your toddler has learning new words, the more likely she is to carry on using them. There are lots of ways you can help your toddler with learning to talk:

  • Talk as much and as often as you can to your toddler. Watch her face carefully and look interested whenever she tries to talk to you.
  • Focus on what your toddler is trying to say, rather than on how clearly she pronounces her words. Try to help your toddler feel confident about talking to you.
  • When she does communicate successfully, give her clear feedback. For example, you may tell her “Yes, that’s right, it is a spoon.”
  • Let your toddler see what you mean, by matching what you do to what you say. “Shoes off” you could say, removing her shoes. Then “socks off”, removing her socks.

When you give your toddler her lunch, put the plates on the table and then hold out your hand to her saying, “It’s lunchtime now”. She will understand that her lunch is ready and will come to the table, because she has smelt the food and seen you setting the table. She may not have understood the words “lunchtime now” without those other cues to go with them.

  • Get your toddler’s attention by saying her name before you talk to her and making eye contact with her. This will help her understand when you are talking to her.
  • Give your toddler plenty of opportunities to talk during everyday activities. If you ask her a question, leave a 10-second pause, so that she has time to answer you.
  • Expose your toddler to new situations where you can introduce more words. Take her on the bus or for a walk. Point out things you see when you’re out and about.
  • Repeat back what you hear your toddler trying to say to you, even if she doesn’t say it clearly. Expand on what she says. So if your toddler says “nana” when she wants a banana, you could say “Yes, here’s a banana.”
  • Simplify your speech. Use short sentences and emphasise key words when you are talking to your toddler. This will help her to focus on the important information.
  • Switch off unnecessary background noise such as the TVor radio. This will help your toddler to focus her attention on you when you are talking to her. Children can find it harder than adults to filter out background noise.

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