It’s not that you’re a worry wart; you’re just an involved parent and want the best for your baby! Now that your little baby is now a toddler you’ve most likely noticed plenty of babbling and perhaps even a growing vocabulary. You’ve probably scanned through dozens of milestone charts online trying match what he’s doing with a milestone. As a parent you undoubtedly want to do everything to give your little one all the support your toddler needs to develop his speech.
Speak to Them
Talk to your toddler as much as you can. Talk to her while you’re standing in the cereal aisle at the store and ask her questions. Trust me, it’s not as embarrassing as being caught talking to yourself! Try reading to her or describing pictures in books to her. You can also talk to her while doing everyday things that involve her, such as while you’re bathing her. Your toddler is like a sponge and will learn your cadence and pitch and different patterns that exist in the language you’re speaking. If your child has shown signs to be a good imitator, you may soon start to see her trying to sound a lot like you!
Encourage Your Child to Talk
This may sound obvious; however, don’t disregard your toddler’s attempt at speaking because it doesn’t make any sense to you. The babbling that your toddler is doing isn’t just noise, it is an attempt to work out the different sounds he can make. Don’t quiet him down! If you’re itching for your little one to cry out to you, teach him sounds that are made up of a consonant and a vowel, like “ma” and “da.” Get up close and repeat these sounds slowly and make sure he can see the movements your mouth is making. Encourage your child to parrot your sounds.
Gesturing is also a form of communication, so don’t forget about body language. Your toddler will most likely be using her body to communicate to you before any words are used, so help her out by teaching a couple gestures. For example, while saying “good-bye,” try waving and showing how to wave bye-bye. You’ll be delighted when you see her return gestures.
Assign Words to Objects
When you teach your toddler that words have a function – such as to call for attention – it gives him motivation to learn more words. Your toddler may have already started pointing at things that he wants. This is a solid foundation to start with. When your child is pointing at a toy, give him the toy while telling him what it is, like “Fuzzy Teddy.” You can also take the initiative and point at different things while naming them and ensuring that you get a response from your little one.
Every child is different and milestone charts aren’t one-size-fits-all! You may have a whiz kid that had met every expected marker on the dot. Or, you may have a toddler who may be taking more time to achieve a certain skill. Move at her own pace. Continue to try new methods and repeat old ones to reinforce what she already knows. Patience with the entire process is key to a happy child. Remember they’re try to figure all this new speech stuff out too!
When to be Worried
You’ve read all the articles, played all the sound games and are running out of options. Your toddler is months behind according to charts and you are deeply concerned about his unusual or delayed progress. At this point, it may be beneficial to seek the advice your doctor who may recommend you see a speech-language pathologist. They can help diagnose if your child has patterns of autism or if she just has a preference to learning speech in a particular way and specialize in treating speech related disorders.