Are you excited to start chatting with your baby? Here are some speech exercises for toddlers that you can do at home.
What can you read in this article?
- When can you start teaching your child about speech
- The difference between a late talker and having a speech developmental delay
- Speech exercises for toddlers
One of the things we look forward to as parents is finally being able to converse with our children. We can’t wait to know what’s going on in their minds and hear them talk about their day.
For some parents, hearing their child talk happens early. I always tell other people that my three kids all learned to talk and sing first before they learned to walk or crawl. I attribute this to the early stimulation they had, being surrounded by people who would talk to them all the time.
However, for some kids, talking comes a little bit later. Some parents complain that their kids don’t respond to their name yet at age one, or only know a few words at 2 years old.
Especially now that our kids are confined in the comfort of our homes and don’t get as much interaction with their peers, it’s possible that their
While we always hear that kids reach their milestones differently, when can we really expect our little ones to start talking, and when should we be worried that they’re not good at it yet?
Image from Pexels
When do babies start talking?
Brooke Dwyer and Bridget Hilsberg, speech therapists who are also known as Speech Sisters on Instagram, believe that you can already start teaching your child about language as early as 4 months, when the baby has feeding and sleep all set.
“It is never too early to start talking to your child with the intent of building their language skills,” they said.
According to Dr. Michiko Caruncho, a developmental pediatrician from the Makati Medical Center, children actually start communicating even before they can talk. By age one, you can already start to hear a few words from your little one.
“Even before 1 year old, your baby is already trying to communicate with you. Even before they can talk, they are communicating to you – staring, gestures, facial expressions. Babbling is an important milestone.
Finally, by 1 year old, that’s when you hear baby’s first word. Again it is a range,” she said.
As you observe how your child grows and develops, you will be amazed to see how she is starting to communicate, from babbling to saying some syllables and sounds, to imitating your words and finally being able to talk.
However, when you look at videos of other babies your child’s age on social media or hear stories from other moms on how talkative their toddlers are, you may unintentionally start comparing your child to others when it comes to speech. At times, you may even wonder, “Is there something wrong with my child? Why is he not talking yet?”
Late talker vs. Speech delay
As we said, children develop at their own pace. So most of the time, the advice a worried mom would get from well-meaning friends and relatives on the subject of speech is, “He’ll get there. Just wait and see.”
But how do you know if your child is just a little bit late in talking or it’s something you should be worried about? How do you differentiate a child from just being a late talker to having speech delay problems?
“A late talker is a child who understands language, but they’re just not meeting their communication milestones, so they probably don’t have as many words as they should have for their age,” Dwyer said in a previous interview.
In a previous article, Singapore-based speech pathologists Joan Lim and Sheryl Lau said that a late talker will usually catch up to his peers in the language area without any intervention. They may say their first word by 18 months, and start with unintelligible speech or “baby talk.”
Meanwhile, a child with a language problem might always be behind his peers in language development and will require intervention to prevent the gap from getting larger as he grows.
The Speech Sisters posted a chart for some of the red flags in communication development that parents could refer to:
Image from Speechsisters on Instagram
Speech therapy for toddlers
If you think your child falls under the category of having a speech development delay, it’s best to consult his doctor or schedule an appointment with a developmental pediatrician or a speech pathologist as soon as possible for further observation and assessment.
However, because of the limited resources available right now (we’ve heard stories that the wait to get an appointment with a developmental pediatrician could take several months), you can also try encouraging your child to start talking with the use of some speech therapy exercises at home.
What usually happens in speech therapy?
According to the website Otsimo.com, in the usual clinical setting, this is what happens in speech therapy for toddlers:
First, a speech-language pathologist will assess the best way to approach the child’s situation. There are a couple of techniques used during speech therapy:
- Utilizing picture boards
- Signing or typing
- Exercising facial muscles to improve articulation
- Modulating the tone of voice
- Understanding body language
How long should speech therapy activities last?
Carrie Clark, a licensed speech therapist from Columbia, Missouri, recommends doing short speech exercises for toddlers that focus on the skill that they have to work on.
“I recommend that families shoot for two 5-minute sessions per day to target your child’s speech and language skills.
The research is showing that shorter, more frequent sessions are more effective for learning and retention than longer, less frequent sessions,” she said.
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Speech exercises for toddlers to do at home
Whether you just have a late talker or your child has a speech delay, here’s what you can do at home to encourage your toddler to talk:
Reading books and using flashcards
One of the materials that are always utilized in speech therapy are books (picture books for toddlers). Reading teaches your child about facial expressions and lets her see your mouth move as you articulate words and sounds!
Meanwhile, using flashcards is also a great speech exercise for toddlers as it helps your child identify pictures, shapes, numbers or sight words and gives them more practice to connect the picture with the word.
Another fun way to help your child practice her mouth is through music. Songs will help your toddler learn and memorize new words, thus expanding their vocabulary while also developing their listening skills.
Exercising your child’s facial muscles help her improve articulation. Holding air in cheeks is one of the facial exercises frequently used in speech therapy. Why not make it more fun with bubbles?
According to Speech Sisters, research proves that children who produce more gestures early on have larger expressive vocabularies.
“Although gestures may not start to emerge until 8-9 months old, we encourage you to start introducing them to your baby sooner than that!” they wrote.
“It’s important to pair a word with the gesture you are using, so if you clap, say, ‘Yay!’ or if you wave, say Hi!’ or ‘Bye!’ You don’t have to cut out time during your day to teach your baby gestures, just incorporate it into your daily routines,” they added.
Making silly noises while playing
What’s the sound of the dog? or an airplane? or a dinosaur?
Imitating these sounds for your toddler to hear can be beneficial and help him start babbling or talking. This practice actually helps children practice the sounds that are necessary for speech.
And not only the sounds, but also the shapes made by the mouth that lets your child exercise their face muscles to actually articulate some words.
Repeating what your child says and more
Encouraging two-way communication is essential in speech therapy. Tell them what’s happening as you do something and wait for their response. If they do, repeat what they said and add more to it. For example, if they say, “Ball,” instead of just repeating it, say “Yes, it’s a ball. A red ball. A softball. Can you bounce the ball?”
Image from Pexels
One of the best ways to encourage your child to talk is by modeling it to him and conversing with him more often on a daily basis. Although if you are really concerned about your child’s speech, whether you think he’s just a late talker or not, it would be best to consult a professional about it as early as possible.
As the Speech Sisters put it, “No parent will ever regret acting early. But they may regret not acting early enough.”
Instagram, Speech Buddy, Otsimo