Encouraging Language in Your Toddler

I’ve never considered myself to be the parent obsessed with milestones. However, after our 18 month check up my doctor suggested taking Emerson to a speech therapist. I was scared and almost embarrassed. I blamed myself for not reading to him enough and was afraid we might discover a bigger problem. Before spending lots of money for a private speech therapist I decided to do a little research and see if there was something I could do from home to encourage his language skills. I am happy to report that it’s been a few months since that 18 month check up and even though he’s still not at the ‘average’ language level for his age we’ve seen significant progress and he’s even starting to say a few words. If you’re concerned about language, but it’s too soon for you to go to a speech therapist here are a few things you can try at home:

Get some books. I would recommend The Speech Teacher’s Handbook to anyone wanting to encourage language in his or her child. It had helpful information on milestones, and made me feel so much better about where Emerson was in his development. Since implementing the strategies in the book I’ve seen a big improvement and he’s starting saying words like ‘more’ ‘hat’ and ‘ball.’ You can get a copy of The Speech Teacher’s Handbook here on amazon!

Teach your child sign language.  didn’t want to be that pretentious parent always bragging about her baby who knew sign language, but it became necessary for us to be able to communicate. He picked up sign language so easily and it’s helped him be able to communicate with us what he wants.

Don’t compare child to other kids. It’s been difficult for me to see friends with children much younger than Emerson with a much larger vocabulary. I just keep reminding myself that children develop at different speeds and he’s so young there is plenty of time to catch up.

Determine if there could possibly be a hearing problem. Sometimes your child can have trouble hearing and if they can’t hear you they definitely can’t copy your language. If you think your child is having trouble hearing, talk to your doctor to discuss next steps.

Make time to read together or listen to audio books in the car. My pediatrician had me start listening to children’s audio books in the car in addition to reading together during the day. This helps Emerson hear small easy to copy words and get comfortable with the way they sound.

Invest in some flashcards. Flash cards are a great way to teach your child different objects. I’ll set out two or three pictures of different objects and ask Emerson to point to the table or the fork. Eventually I’m hoping he’ll be able to say the words, but for now I’m happy to see he’s able to understand the name of objects.

Get your child socalized. This is probably a strong factor in why Emerson has been a little behind on his language. He doesn’t spend much time with other children so he doesn’t get to hear them talk or use their words. We’ve started taking him around other children as much as we can. Most public libraries have a story time or toddler program that’s free. The park is a great place to meet other kids, as well as gymnastics, swim, or sports teams.

I’ve also been encouraged by a number of parents I’ve talked to who had late bloomers when it comes to language. It seems to me it’s more common to have a child early or late than actually hitting every milestone on time.

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