Are you worried about your toddler’s talking? Do they understand everything you say, but have trouble using words to tell you how they’re feeling or what they’re seeing and thinking? Try the following strategies to help build the number of words they use in everyday life.

1. Follow your child’s lead.

Watch what your child is doing, then get down to their level (e.g., If they’re on the floor, sit on the floor with them) and talk to them about what they’re doing using sentences and words they understand. Although you might be tempted to ‘fill the gaps’, WAIT (at least 5 seconds) for them to talk before you say more.

2. Show your child that you’re listening to what they say.

This is one of the best ways to encourage your child’s talking. Show them you’re listening by nodding, smiling, asking questions, and adding comments.

3. Expand what your child says to make their sentences longer and more complex.

For example:

Child: “Here’s a block”

Adult: “It’s a big, blue block”

Child: “Daddy’s home”

Adult: “Yes, Daddy’s home early”

4. Model correct sentences and words.

Stress the correct word when modelling. You can ask your child to repeat your model occasionally. Don’t ask them to repeat too often.

Child: “She dancing”

Adult: “Yes, she is dancing”

Child: “Yesterday, I runned to the shop”

Adult: “You ran to the shop, did you?”

5. Ask open-ended questions.

These encourage your child to give you more information than yes/no questions. It also shows you’re interested in what they say. Try: Why is it…?, How do you…?, What is a…?, What does it look like?

6. Ask your child to tell you about daily routines.

You may need to prompt them for more information to start with. Repeat the routine back to them. Continue practicing talking about routines until your child can detail the routine well without your help.

Adult: “What do you do when you get ready for bed?”

Child: “Brush my teeth”

Adult: “What else do you do?”

Child: “Put on pyjamas”

Adult: “That’s right, to get ready for bed you brush your teeth and put on your pyjamas”

7. Ask your child to give you directions.

Do exactly what your child says. Example activities include making a sandwich, putting on your shoes and socks or drawing an animal.

Child: “Put the butter on the bread”

Adult: Puts butter container on top of the bread.

Child: “Noooo! Put the butter on the bread using a knife”

Adult: Puts butter container on bread using a knife etc.,

Don’t forget that we are a phone call away and happy to provide assessment of your toddler’s talking skills to keep your worry in check!