Late Talkers

10 Things to Say to Your Toddler Instead of “What is That?”

December 2, 2022

I’m Brooke
I'm a speech therapist with a mission to make speech therapy simple and accessible! 
TOp categories

Get My Free First 50 Words Checklist 
Yes, Please
toddler with a speech delay in speech therapy

Here’s a super helpful tip to help your toddler talk:

Turn questions with comments

Questions tend to be conversation stoppers. If I ask you, “What color is it? and you say “blue,” there’s not really anywhere else to go, right? We want little ones to stay engaged in the interaction so there are more opportunities for learning.

Comments, on the other hand, add information. When you comment, you add language to whatever your child is interested in. That way they hear the words associated with the exact thing they are paying attention at that exact moment. That’s how learning language happens! The longer you keep the interaction going, the more opportunities your toddler has for learning (and saying) new words.

You can easily turn questions into comments by switching the words around. For example, instead of saying, “Are you eating an apple?” you can say “You are eating an apple!” You can even add on by saying something like “I like apples!”

Questions tend to be conversation stoppers instead of conversation builders. Not to mention, nobody (even toddlers) want to be asked obvious questions. If they don’t know the word, this is an opportunity to teach, not quiz. You may be surprised how many words you hear when you start adding comments!

Here are ten things to say to a toddler instead of “What is that?”

  • Name the item: “It’s a ball!”
  • Add an describing word: “That ball is big!” (adding big arms)
  • Add an action: “That’s a ball…it rolls!” (add a gesture)
  • Add a function: “That’s a ball…you throw it!”
  • Add a pronoun: “That’s your ballThis is my ball!” (point to your toddler and yourself)
  • Add a color “That ball is blue
  • Give a compliment: “I like that ball!”
  • State a fact: “I have a ball too! See?”
  • Start game: “Let’s play with your ball!”
  • Make a fun noise: “That ball goes bounce, bounce bounce
Add a comment
+ show Comments
- Hide Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get My First Free 50 Word Checklist When You Subscribe