6 Tips for Surefire Language Development in Toddlers

Tips for surefire language development in toddlers

Language development in toddlers is especially important in those first 3 years.

We are familiar with using the word 'language' to refer to just speech and the written word, but the true scope of its meaning is wider than that.

Language includes much more, which is why your baby's speech development begins the moment he is born.

It includes verbal expression of course, but also gesture, facial expressions, tone, pace and emotional input.

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It is during your child's first three years that speech and language develop very rapidly.

I can remember the time when I could count on my fingers the number of words my daughter used - but that was a very short period. And of course the words she actually understood by age one was far in excess of the number she used.

The Window of Opportunity

There is an increasing amount of evidence to show that young children's brains are particularly able to absorb language, which is why this period is so important.

In short, the first 3 years create the 'Window of Opportunity' and should be optimally used to encourage and stimulate language development in toddlers.

If a child spends most of his time with a parent who does not adequately respond his speech development will be negatively impacted.

When your baby first cries you will wonder 'What is the matter?', but is amazing how quickly you learn to distinguish between 'I'm hungry' and 'I'm lonely' and all the rest.

Just as you are learning to distinguish his sounds so baby is learning to pick out the various noises in his environment - familiar voices, but also the bark of the dog, the purr of a cat, the sound of a familiar car engine and all the rest. Soon you will be taking him or her out into the larger world - where of course there are many new sounds.

From about 6 weeks old every day your baby will be trying out new sounds for himself, but gradually these will become attempts at the language he hears around him.

6 Tips for advancing language development in toddlers

Here are a few things you can do to encourage speech development:

  1. Spend time every day to talk to your baby face to face.  

  2. Use a slightly higher tone than you would when speaking to another adult. Research and investigations confirm that babies respond better to a higher tone.  

  3. Say the names of everyday things over and over again. And when possible point to or pick up the object. Then say 'Cup', 'Spoon', 'Dog ' and more. Obviously, the more frequent you do this, the better.   

  4. Read with and to your baby. There are so many wonderful books out there. Just have a look at the libraries close to you. Or the bookshops you frequently visit. When you choose books for your baby, here are a few guidelines: it must have big clear illustrations and bold colors.

    Choose sturdy books - all babies explore new objects by putting them in their mouths. In the beginning, try to have only one object on a page. Later start introducing books with more difficult pictures.    

  5. Learn to change and try new ways as your baby gets older. Always point and read to stimulate the connection between the shapes and the sound. One day your child will understand that that shape represents that sound… and that the sound s/he hears is associated with the picture in the book.     

  6. This may seem so obvious to us as adults that we simply overlook it. Your child will also be learning how books work - pages in sequence, from front to back, top to bottom and all the rest.  Continue to read with your child each day - it only takes a few minutes for even the busiest person - then one day your child will read you a story - look forward to it.

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