Helping Your Toddler to Talk

Toddler on Parents BedChildren progress according to their own unique timetables. We’ve all heard this before but this adage becomes real when your child starts talking.

My son is nearly 2-years-old and can say a handful of words: “dada,” “mama,” “truck”–you know, only the most important words (to a 2-year-old, that is). Other toddlers his age are saying short sentences and obscure words. No matter. My son’s language is unfolding in his own unique way. It really doesn’t matter as long as progress is being made.

If your child is on the slow end of talking, a) don’t panic and b) gently encourage your toddler to talk through fun activities.

Don’t lock your child in a room with flashcards until he can perfectly pronounce “apple” and “airplane.” Make learning fun. Get down on the floor and play with your child. Narrate the actions of his favorite toy: “Look at the truck. The truck moves fast. Then the truck goes slow.” Sing songs like pat-a-cake and encourage your child to sing along.

If your child isn’t saying any words, begin by having her say sounds instead of whole words. Saying “wheeee,” “ooops,” “aaaa” and other sounds will lay down the pavement for saying whole words. Think baby steps–you are dealing with a baby after all.

Keep in mind that some toddlers don’t say many words because they don’t have to–their parents anticipate every move. Your goal is to make talking functional. Put one of your child’s favorite toys out of reach and have him ask for it. Don’t torture the kid–he doesn’t have to get it right. Maybe just have him say the beginning sound of the word and progress from there.

All in all, forget what your friends’ kids are saying–your child is fine and with a little practice will talk your ear off before you know it. Enjoy the silence (or cute mishmashes words) while they last.

Do you have any tips for helping kids learn to talk?

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About Sarah Valek

Sarah Valek is a freelance writer based in Cleveland, Ohio. She has written numerous articles on alternative parenting and the challenges of raising a vegan child in a meat-eating world. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and art from Ithaca College. She spends her days drinking soy lattes and taking her son bird-watching.