It’s a major concern for new parents: Will my child call me “Mama” or “Dada”? By the time your child turns one, you can expect to hear that first precious word, and then there will be no stopping your little chatterbox. By the time they are 15 months old, your child will be able to string together simple consonant sounds to construct words like “up,” “more,” and “baby.” At 18 months, your child’s vocabulary will begin to blossom, and they should learn multiple new words daily.
You can’t speed up your child’s natural growth, but you can help their language skills. Michelle Macias, M.D., says, “The best thing you can do is keep talking to your 1-year-old all day long.” This regular exposure to English will help kids learn, even if you feel stupid saying, “Now I’m putting the potatoes into the pot.”
Read on for some easy tips on how to maximize your toddler’s communication skills.
1. Keeping an eye on their hands is a must.
A 1-year-old has a much larger vocabulary than their speech level indicates. Dr. Macias says that teaching a one-year-old to communicate nonverbally through gestures is crucial.
In response to your toddler’s wave, you might say, “Bye-bye!” or, if they point, “Do you want the cup?” To aid in this process, you can play gesture-based games like “pat-a-cake” or sing “The Wheels on the Bus” while making hand motions to the words.
2. Use real words.
Even though it’s fine if your one-year-old names their bottle “ba ba,” you and your partner should try to avoid talking down to your child by always using the correct terms. Stuart Teplin, M.D., a developmental and behavioral physician in Concord, North Carolina, says, “Parents should always be one step ahead of where their child is in life.” Using adult language with your infant is a great way to encourage language development.
3. Don’t reserve books only for bedtime use.
Parents sometimes read too quickly to their kids when tired and just want them to sleep. Read to her instead at leisurely intervals throughout the day. Discourse on the visual content of the images. Just point at the kid and say, “Wow. Is he trying to tell us something? The simple act of asking your kid what noises the animals in pictures make is great for their developing language abilities.
Reading to your infant from birth is an important bonding experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages reading aloud to infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics published research in 2017 showing that children who were read to as infants were better prepared for reading in elementary school and had greater literacy rates four years later.
4. Set up a playdate.
Plan outings with other children of a similar age. Even if the 1-year-olds in a group aren’t talking much, they can still benefit from being in a social setting with their peers by listening, interacting, and practicing their vocabulary. Say something helpful like, “Wow, she’s giving you the bear. Use the word “thank you.”
5. Piggyback words.
Toddlers begin utilizing two-word phrases to communicate around the age of 18 months. “Usually, they’ll put together an action plus an object, like ‘drink juice,’ or ‘read a book,'” explains Diane Paul, Ph.D., director of speech pathology in Rockville, Maryland. Help your kid learn to put together sentences by adding a word or two: In response to “Ball,” you could say, “Big ball” or “Throw your ball.”
6. Nourish responses.
If your child makes an effort to communicate with you, it’s important to reinforce that effort in a good way rather than correcting them. Paul urges his readers to focus on the topic itself rather than the diction used to convey it. If your youngster sees your spouse leaving and says, “Daddy bye-bye,” you can respond with, “Yes, Daddy’s going to the store.”
7. Observe their lead.
Your infant will want to learn the corresponding vocabulary as soon as they become interested in something. Notice what interests them, and comment on it: “That’s a cute white cat by the tree.”
Try imitating their every move if you want to impress them on your regular walk or while out doing errands. Your child’s perspective and attention might greatly benefit from your careful attention to forms, colors, and other details.
8. Change your tone.
When asking inquiries like “Out?” toddlers are beginning to use intonation, as noted by Dr. Teplin. They’re also learning the difference between appropriate indoor and outdoor volume levels for conversation. Make up silly voices with your child, like a growling bear or a squeaky mouse, and have them imitate you to gain experience with various tones and timbres.
9. Keep it interactive.
Singing is a wonderful technique to help toddlers develop their vocabulary. The more basic songs you can teach your youngster, the better. These should include tunes that either rhyme (“One, Two, Buckle My Shoe”) or have a lot of sound effects (“Old MacDonald”). But don’t make the mistake of thinking they can learn through watching television.
Having one-on-one time with you is currently preferable to watching instructive television shows. “Toddlers aren’t wired to learn from TV,” Dr. Macias explains. To quote the author: “What they really listen to and respond to is real human voices and interaction.”
Meaningful articles you might like: Language Development Milestones For 1 To 4 Year Olds, 7 Ways To Interpret Your Infant’s Body Language, The Positive Effects of Learning a Second Language as a Kid