You want to help your toddler build language, but you might not be sure how to do it or if it’s even needed. As a new mom, especially a pandemic mom, you might not be able to get access to information like it was before 2020. Most of the time, you have to call or ask your doctor. Sometimes that doesn’t always work when it comes to the daily baby and toddler milestones.
When I was my son, Noah’s age, I wasn’t speaking. It took me until I was closer to five before I could develop language. Noah is 20-months, and by this age should be able to have about three to eight words in his vocabulary.
When we went to his 18-month wellness check-up, our pediatrician told us to speak to a specialist if he wasn’t speaking in a few months. Fast forward to September 2021, and that is when my hubs and I went to a specialist so we can figure out how bad the delay is.
It turns out, the delay that I had was much worse than what Noah has, which is excellent, and we received some great tools to help him develop language in the next three to six months, so by the time he is closer to two and three he will be right on track with other kids his age.
Of course, Noah will go to the therapist 1-2x per week, but here are the critical takeaways for a parent wanting to help develop language with their young toddler (18 – 24 months)
Help Toddler Build Language: How They Learner
You first have to figure out how your child learns. Since genetics play a role in retaining most of the time, think about how you can learn and take in information.
For a visual learner, like myself, you have to show me how to do something before connecting the dots. An auditory learner needs you to tell them verbally what they need to do. Quick examples of both:
Visual: Youtube Tutorials
Auditory: Podcast or Audio Books
There are five other ways of learning: kinaesthetic, social, solitary, verbal, and logical. The most common learners (which most people fall into are):
- Visual learners
- Auditory learners
- Kinesthetic learners
- Reading/writing learners
After discovering the best way your child learns, you have to develop a plan to help them build language. For us, repetition and visual prompts are going to be the key to Noah’s success.
One Word Syllables
When building a language, you have to start slow. You can’t expect to say it works like “television” your first time trying. It’s the same when teaching your baby how to build language.
First, you want to start with easy words that your child will interact with daily. Here are some examples: Book, Dog, Cat
The key is to use the words and say them phonetically to understand what you are saying and how you are saying.
Go slow! I usually say it three times in a row.
Again, since Noah is a visual learner, he will look at my mouth to see how I’m saying the word. He is paying attention to how my lips are shaped, the sound, and taking notes.
Our therapist recommended that when we teach Noah a new word, since he is a visual learner, he put the object to our mouth to see it and start to build meaning behind the word.
For example, if you want your child to pick up the “book,” you would hold the book to your mouth and say ” book.” Your child will look at your mouth and the book and start to associate that item with that word.
It’s not going to happen immediately, but over time you will notice that if you say “book,” your child will understand what a “book” is and be able to give the time to you.
Consistency and repetition are going to be key!
Use What You Have
You don’t have to buy new toys or items; you can use what you currently have to help. I have done 15-20 mins a day while playing with Noah.
I try to do it when he is in a good mood. Not high pressure and I don’t ask him to repeat the word back to me. I will pick up a toy or item, say what it is and say it slowly.
By doing it this way, I have noticed that he has been paying attention to my lips. It’s fun for both of us. If you have a dog, as I do, they always find a way to be in the mix. Cooper, our corgi, makes sure to help out in his way.
Here are our current toy baskets. I alternate between the bins for variety and clean up after we finish playing.
Other Ways to help toddler build language
Of course, if you notice that your child is having trouble speaking, you should always talk with your doctor for the best treatment for your child. I’m not a medical professional, just a mom sharing my experiences to help other parents.
There could be other reasons your young toddler might have a speech delay. Autism or neurologic issues are examples of what could be causing a delay. Those would need to be tested if you have more concerns or suspect that something else is wrong.
For more information on the other ways of learning, you can check out this post, which goes into depth about the topic.
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