How can you help your toddler talk?

toddler talk

Toddlers talk, a lot! But, we don’t usually understand what they say, except we try to listen carefully to pick one or two words. So, how do you help your toddler speak your language? There are different ways to get your toddler talking.

As a toddler, your child is starting to master language. You can encourage toddler talking skills with everyday play ideas – listening to your child, chatting together, singing and telling stories.

The more you chat to your toddler, the more opportunities he/she is likely to have to learn how to talk. But please note that all children are different and learn to talk at different rates. So, don’t try to compare your child with your neighbour’s child that talks better.

How can I help my toddler learn to talk?

The more fun your toddler has learning new words, the more likely he/she is to continue 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 his/her face carefully and look interested whenever he/she tries to talk to you.
  • Focus on what your toddler is trying to say,not how clearly the words are pronounced.
  • Try to help your toddler feel confident about talking to you.
  • When he/she does communicate successfully, give him/her clear feedback. For example, you may say “Yes, that’s right, it is a cup.”
  • Let your toddler see what you mean, by matching what you do to what you say. You could say “Shoes off”, removing her shoes. Then “socks off”, removing her socks.

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

  • Get your toddler’s attention by saying his/her name before you talk to him/her and making eye contact with him/her. This will help them understand when you are talking to them.
  • Give your toddler plenty of opportunities to talk during everyday activities. If you ask a question, leave a 10-second pause, so that he/she has time to answer you.
  • Expose your toddler to new situations where you can introduce more words. Take him/her for a walk. Point out things you see.
  • Repeat what you hear your toddler trying to say to you, even if he/she doesn’t say it clearly. Expand on what she says. So if your toddler says “a-ta” when she wants a water, you could say “Yes, here’s water.”
  • 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 TV or 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.

How can I make learning to talk fun?

You get more motivated when you do something you enjoy. Id you try to make talking fun, your toddler will be encouraged to talk more.

Get toys that will help develop their speech. Play with them, and name the toys you are playing with.

Read books with your toddler often. Even if you don’t read the story as it happens, she will learn by listening to you talking about the pictures.

Have fun with nursery rhymes, especially those with actions such as “Row, row, row your boat”. The more you do this the more likely your toddler is to join in.

Play games where you have to take turns. Turn-taking skills will help your toddler learn how to contribute to conversations.

Try listening games such as:

  • Clapping games, where you clap a pattern, and then wait for your toddler to try to clap the same pattern.
  • Choosing the correct picture or animal toy when you make an animal noise. For example, you say “moo” and wait for your toddler to pick out a toy cow.
  • Gathering together several toys that make noises, and making a sound with one of them out of your toddler’s sight. Your toddler then has to decide which toy it was that made the noise.






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