Seven tips to encourage your toddler to talk

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My daughter uttered her first word at 13 months and I was worried that she would be a late talker. Behold, one month later and her vocabulary was just off the charts. At 27 months she now speaks in a clear diction and forms long sentences.

If you are looking for ways to encourage your toddler to talk, the seven tips given below would help you to give a gentle nudge to your tiny tot to another milestone in his/her life. Although remember some children are just late talkers and it is not a developmental problem unless the doctor is able to identify any hearing or speech problem.

1. Start a conversation

There is no time like the present. Every moment that your baby is with you is an opportunity to boost his language skills. Narrate routine activities like preparing a feed, changing a diaper to the baby. Also take time out for activities like taking a walk, going to the market with the child, describe everything you see on the way. For example, “look at the beautiful flower, that apple looks so tasty, It is a lovely dress that you are wearing.” In fact according to a benchmark study related to speech for children by Dr. Todd Risley, PhD, young children who hear at least 30,000 words a day will thrive regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. That’s the same number heard in 18 and a half readings of Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat.”

2. Repeat.Repeat.Repeat.

Although it is boring for the parents but children find it fascinating. Listening to the same word a few times in a row gives the baby a chance to reinforce the word in his mind. Repetition also enables him to create a reference point for the concept that you are talking about and the next time he hears the words he will able to link the sounds and meaning. Repetition is a key factor for this task.

3. Don’t use babytalk

Although it is difficult to not talk to your baby using words like baba for bottle etc. try and keep it at a minimum. You and the other caregivers should try to use proper words to make sure that you are not talking down to your baby. It is important to use real words while talking to the baby as their imitating skills are very sharp and if you want to expand their vocabulary it will bode well if you use real words while talking to them,

4. Read to your baby

Reading is a habit which is never too early to be cultivated. Try reading simple board books for kids with pictures that your child can relate to in his/her day to day life. Don’t shy away from reading story books to even a younger baby unless they are not interested. Read clearly and without rushing. Describing the pictures in a story book will build the word bank of your child. In fact studies have found that 2 year olds who were frequently read to from an early age have advanced language skills.

5. Be a facilitator

Try to lead the communication by giving the baby a chance to talk. For example if you think the baby is thirsty don’t simply give the sippy cup to her instead give her a chance to ask for it, even if she just ends up pointing or grunting, it is fine as long as she communicates. However, in no case should you withhold something from your child to force them to speak. If the child is asking for “appa” don’t say I won’t give it to you unless you say “Apple” .This will only frustrate the child and put him off from further conversation. Similarly pause after saying something to your baby as if you are waiting for an answer. Soon the baby will pick up on your cues and give some form of response.

6. Use pitches and tones

We mothers have a secret weapon in our hands- the animated, singsong tone that we usually use while talking to babies. Vary your pitch from soft while indoors to Loud when outdoors .Use funny voices, make animal sounds-so your child can imitate you and learn about various sounds.

7. Boost the babble

Once your baby is speaking single words or two word sentences you can use language boosting techniques to improve their vocabulary. Teach her to string words together, for example when she says “milk”, you can say “cold milk” or “drink your milk”.  Expand and extend the baby’s sentences. For example if she says “Mommy eat” you can say “Yes mommy is eating lunch with baby”. Another example is if the baby says “Balloon” you can say “Big balloon high in the sky.”

To conclude it is good to try and encourage your tot to talk but you should not go overboard with it. Don’t try to saturate him/her with words. Don’t keep correcting him all the time and most importantly don’t get over concerned about your baby’s speech. Each baby has its own pace of achieving various milestones and you should never force them otherwise.

Do share with me any tips or suggestions you have personally used to encourage

the speaking skills of your baby.

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