What are some games that help encourage toddlers' speech development? Dr. Katie Heathershaw, Fisher-Price™ PLAY IQ Expert & Pediatrician explains.
Speech and language are part of the larger process of communication so it’s very important to recognise that your toddler communicates in all sorts of ways; through their play, their gestures, through their facial expressions, body language, eye contact, behaviour, as well as through words and sounds. It is also very important to bear in mind that normal language development is highly variable.
Communication development is closely linked to play. The interactions you have with your child from those very first months and the play they engage in is constantly building their communication skills. The most important way to encourage your toddler’s language development is by talking and listening. Give your child time to respond, especially if there are older children in the family. Make sure you listen and respond to any vocal attempts, even if they are not clear words. Try some vocal play without there being the expectation of ‘real speech’, for example enjoy ‘brumming’ with cars or making silly noises in the bath with boats – just have fun with your voices! Songs such as ‘Old McDonald’ allows your toddler to join in with animal noise suggestions which can be good fun, whilst ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ will help them to learn body parts.
Toys such as the Fisher-Price™ Laugh & Learn™ Smart Stages™ Puppy that responds to baby’s touch with silly sayings and sing-along songs is a great way to spark your little one’s imagination and language.
Reading remains very important too. Your child may point out items in their favourite books or even be able to anticipate and say the word that’s coming next, especially in rhyming or repetitive books like ‘Hairy Maclary’ or ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ or Dr Seuss books.
If your toddler is a little slow to talk, try to give them a choice of words rather than always guessing their needs or just letting them point. It’s important to remember that every child reaches developmental milestones at their own pace.
If you have concerns about your toddler’s communication, play skills or eye contact, then see your health nurse or doctor for further assessment.
This article was published in association with Fisher Price.