If you’re anything like me, as soon as your baby was born you couldn’t wait for their first words, first sentences and even first real conversation. But talking toddlers take time and effort; it’s not something that happens over night. I thought I would share some strategies with parents who want to hear more from their little ones, especially those who seem to be taking their time speaking.
I have found that there are 5 key things to keep infants or toddlers learning and speaking.
Play, Play, Play and Play
Getting down on the floor at their level and spending some quality time playing with your child is the surest way to strengthen their language skills as well as strengthen their bond with you. Doing things such as explaining what you’re playing with, the colour of toys and whether things are moving or going up or down will introduce key words to your infant or toddler. The tried and tested method of holding your child and singing or reading to them also introduces words
Talk at or just above your child’s language level
Usually children can understand more than their vocabulary allows and they have a bank of words yet to make an appearance. The theory here is that you want to challenge a child’s comprehension, support his ability to interact, and facilitate his ability to respond, at the same time. Communicating with your child in way that will generate a response from them is an important first step. Simple sounds are the easiest to start with (e.g “ba” “ma” “da”) and then transition to simple words such as ball, dad etc.
Repetition makes perfect
Repeating key words or phrases over and over again help in establishing the neuropathway in a baby’s mind so that eventually their words will come flooding out. Learning to speak is the same as any other skill; it takes extraordinary practice to get it right. Saying key words or phrases over and over again while allowing your child to do the same will help in establishing a broader vocabulary.
Use Signs, gestures and pictures
Helping a late talker speak through the use of signs, pictures and gestures is extremely effective. Sign language gives them the freedom to express their most basic needs and wants without applying the pressure for them to learn words. The words will come eventually and signing serves as a bridge between gesturing words and saying them. Once toddlers or infants begin to say a few words, pictures and other visual tools are a way to open the language floodgate.
Stay supportive and positive
Waiting for the moment your child speaks can feel like a long journey. Staying supportive by encouraging all small sounds and words as well as staying positive will go a long way.
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