As a parent, you may be wondering if there are things you can do to help your infant or toddler with their speech development. You might be surprised to hear this, but you’re probably already doing a lot to help your child. In this blog, we’ll talk about some simple ways you can help your child develop their speech and language skills every day. If you’re concerned your child isn’t achieving specific language milestones, take a look at our page about warning signs of speech delay, and feel free to get in touch with the Crossroads Speech Therapy team to find out more.
Shared Attention & Naming
You’ve probably found yourself doing this naturally. Sharing attention and naming objects and people in your surroundings is one important way that we help children develop their language and vocabulary and begin recognizing things in the world around them. Even if they can’t repeat the words, they’re internalizing them and will begin to recognize things the more often you refer to them.
Shared Action & Expectations
Similarly, sharing actions helps your child develop appropriate expectations for specific behaviors, which are their own kind of communication. Good examples of this are games like peek-a-boo. Your child recognizes when you are hiding and expects you to peek around your hands, or whatever other item you place in front of your face. Sharing actions and learning expectations is an essential skill for long term social skills.
Giving Directions & Developing Skills
Learning to give and receive directions is another important ability that helps your child develop their long-term communication skills. As your child starts to associate specific words with objects and build expectations based on actions, you can start giving them simple directions. For instance, if you have a board book with images of different shapes, foods, animals, or other objects, you can ask your child to point out specific things. You can also line up toys and ask your child to hand you one. This combines the naming and actions in the previous steps to help your little one further develop their communication and comprehension.
Imitation & Language Development
Eventually, your child will begin to make sounds and try to imitate your words as they develop language. “Baby talk” and vocalizations may sound like nonsense to you, but it’s important to encourage your little one to continue their attempts. This is how they learn to form words, so the more time they spend vocalizing and imitating your words, the better. Fight the urge to respond to your child in their language. Instead, speak to them clearly and articulate simple words, so they can continue imitating your words and developing their speech abilities.
As a fun bonus, if you’re a multilingual family, you can and should introduce additional languages to your child throughout this developmental period. It’s never too early to help your child develop more than one language.
Work with a Speech & Language Therapist
If you have a late talker or toddler who’s struggling or missing speech development milestones, we can help! At Crossroads Speech Therapy, we offer a range of speech and language pathology services to help children meet their communication goals.
If you’re interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Chicago speech therapy team to get started.