You may be wondering, How many words should my toddler use? | Late Talker Toolkit
Speech delays are fairly common. While we don’t know what causes speech delay, but we do know how to help them.
10 Ways to Help Your Toddler with a Speech Delay
Start by having your child’s hearing tested: Different speech sounds correspond with different frequencies and it’s always good to ensure your child can hear all speech sounds clearly.
Get face to face: This allows your child to tune into your facial expressions and mouth. It allows you both to be more connected to the conversation
Follow your child’s lead: When your words match exactly what you’re child is interested in at that moment in time, it makes them much more meaning and powerful. Give words that match your child’s intentions, actions, and interests. If your child is pointing at their water, model the word-“water!”
Hold items near your mouth: This draws attention to your mouth and how you make the sounds
Take the pressure off: Research shows that pressuring children to talk is counterproductive. Keep it fun and encourage them by modeling and pausing
Use a verbal routine: Verbal routines are when we say the same words, the same way each time we do an activity or engage in a familiar routine. An example would be saying, “How big are you?” “So Big!” Once your child knows what to expect, you can build in a pause to encourage them to take a turn.
Slow Down: When we slow down, we give children time to process what they are hearing. We also give them the time to and space to say new words. Talking is hard work! Your child needs to think about what they want to say, retrieve the word they are thinking about, and then coordinate the exact right muscles at the exact right place for the exact right length of time.
Show them: Pair words with the object you are talking about or a gesture. Gestures help children learn spoken words AND give them a way to communicate a word until they are ready to say it (aka decrease the meltdowns)
Stress words: When we speak in a slower, sing songy way, it’s called child-directed speech and it actually helps children learn words. In one study, children between 18-34 months only learned new words when they were said in this way. Another benefit of speaking in this way is that helps make words more salient so your child can focus on the word and put all of their energy towards saying it.
Say Less: Saying less is effective for the same reasons as the strategies above- it helps make words more salient so your toddler can put all of their energy on processing what you are saying and saying them (when they’re ready)
If you have concerns about your child’s speech:
If you have concerns about your child’s speech, you can and should be proactive. The earlier we help toddlers, the better.
- Consult with a Speech Pathologist. It’s never too early to be proactive.
- Contact Early Childhood Intervention
- There are simple strategies you can start using right at home! My online course for parents of “late-talkers” shows you exactly how to implement 10 research backed strategies specifically for toddlers an expressive speech delay at home