Parents, below are 4 tips and tricks to encourage early communication with your kiddo. As a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) that has a passion for early language, I use all of these during my therapy sessions.
1. Narrate everything.
You can do this by announcing and talking through both your and your child’s routines, even if
you are not directly talking to your child. Try announcing the steps of brushing your teeth or
making a meal. During play, try narrating the actions of characters, putting noises to toys, and
labeling objects, colors, and animals while reading a book. Books with repeated words, different
textures and hidden doors provide lots of opportunities for early language development!
2. Child Led Play.
Playing at eye level and using fun language may encourage your child to explore language.
Bringing toys to your mouth will allow them to see how you move our lips, teeth, and tongue to
create words and communicate our thoughts. Build in opportunities to provide choices and allow
for increased time for your child to respond!
Examples of fun language: are “Ready, set, go”, “beep, beep”, and animal noises.
3. Expand on your Child’s Utterances.
Parents often know what their child wants or needs even if the child is not producing any words.
Build on this by providing the want and modeling it back to them. Do this during play by
reinforcing their language and building on what they already know. If your child isn’t verbal,
continue to provide language input by modeling speech during play.
“Oh, drink! You want a drink of milk.”
Does your child try to put noises to cars or animals?
Try: “Yes! Car goes vroom!” or, “Cow says mooo!”
4. Incorporate Sign Language
Pairing verbal language with sign language can spark your child’s interest and decrease their
frustrations with communication. Once they realize their words and actions serve a purpose (to
get those babies what they want) then they are more eager to explore and communicate. As a
speech therapist, some of my favorite beginning signs are “more”, “all done”, “open”, “eat”, and
Remember to be gentle with yourself. Developing language is an incredible and complex skill.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive toys to practice these strategies at home.
Sit outside and talk about what you see, participate in pretend play, or use common home
objects as toys. Providing increased input, letting your child lead, and expanding on their
sounds/words will provide lots of opportunities for growth! Need more examples? Don’t be afraid
to ask your SLP for some suggestions and demonstrations at your next appointment!
To inquire about booking your child's initial Speech-Language Therapy evaluation or next appointment with one of Marshall's expert clinicians, please utilize the form here!
To learn even more about Speech-Language Disorders, statistics, and FAQs, you can visit the ASHA website.