How to Encourage Your Toddler to Talk With 7 Effective Tips

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End communication struggles with your toddler by learning how to encourage your toddler to talk early.

During the first two years of life, your baby transitions from idle and observing newborn into an active and curious toddler.

As parents, our role during this process is to create a safe, nurturing environment to encourage our toddlers to learn to talk and understand the world around them.

According to the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, by two years of age, your child should be: speaking in 2-4 word sentences, should be able to identify common body parts, point to objects or pictures when they are named, and follow simple instructions.

Teach Toddlers to Talk
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Follow along with these 7 easy tips and learn how to encourage your toddler talk. Increase your toddler’s vocabulary and end toddler tantrums and frustrations.

  1. Talk to Your Toddler
  2. Make Every Activity a Learning Experience
  3. Read, Read, Read
  4. Get Outdoors or Out of the House
  5. Listen to Music
  6. Expand on what they say
  7. Skip “baby talk”

1. Talk to Your Toddler

From the day your baby is born, start talking. Language development starts from day 1.

Although you may feel silly speaking to your newborn, give it a try anyways. Even though they may not understand what we’re saying, we’re laying the foundation for language development.

Babies watch and listen as we speak. They gradually develop an understanding of sound production and speaking just from observing us.

If you don’t know what to say to a young baby, don’t stress over it.

Just describe what you’re doing and what you see. If you’re getting dressed, talk about it, “now let’s put your shirt on”. If you’re playing with toys, describe them “this is your pink elephant, isn’t is so soft?”

Baby’s brains are sponges and absorb everything they hear. When babies start talking, you’ll be astonished by the things they repeat when you didn’t think they were even listening.

2. Make Every Activity a Learning Experience

When I first returned to work after maternity leave, I felt so guilty that I was not able to dedicate enough time to sit and play with my little one after work.

Instead, I was busy cooking dinner, cleaning up, and preparing for the next day.

However, I soon learned that although I can’t provide constant undivided attention, all of these chores can become fun learning activities together.

My little one is always in the kitchen with me while I’m cooking or cleaning up. We use this time to talk and bond.

We name every food and ingredient that we’re using and we count and talk about numbers as we’re measuring for recipes. Also, cooking teaches a lot of fun verbs (stir, cut, mix, shake).

My little one loves to help me find the measuring cups and utensils that we need and we have fun identifying all of the different foods.

3. Read, Read, Read

I can’t stress this one enough. Reading to your child has been proven time and time again to be an excellent resource for building your child’s vocabulary.

Additionally, reading is such an easy bonding activity when you’re tired at the end of the day.

Toddlers are naturally inquisitive and as they get older, develop more patience to sit and read. Take your time when reading and look at the pictures and identify different objects.

Don’t feel that you have to stick to the words in the text. If your child is fascinated by a particular picture, take your time and describe everything “look, there’s the blue bird sitting in the tall tree.”

This all helps lay the foundation for language.

Our toddler loves to read which has helped tremendously with learning to talk
First 100 Words

The First 100 Words book has been a favorite in our house from infancy through toddlerhood. As she’s learned to speak more, she’s started “reading” to me and telling me all of the objects she can identify.

4. Get Outdoors or Out of the House

Another easy way to expand your child’s vocabulary is to go outside or out of the house. Any new place you travel with your toddler is full of new words for their vocabulary.

I didn’t realize how true this was until our recent family vacation.

We live in the Northeast and my toddler began talking during this past winter. In February, we took a vacation to Florida and my little one saw someone on a bicycle.

She pointed and said “truck”.

I quickly realized that she had never seen a bicycle (as far as she could remember).

The remainder of the vacation we had fun learning many new outdoor words (beach, sun, sand, swings) to expand her vocabulary further.

I’m not saying you have to travel to Florida to learn more, but look out the window, go to the aquarium or museum, or even go shopping. Every experience is new to your toddler.

There are endless words and concepts to learn.

5. Listen to Music

Listening to music is another fun and passive activity that you can enjoy with your toddler. Listening to music promotes bonding, builds vocabulary, and burns calories too if you dance along like we do!

You can let your little one pick out songs if you have the patience to hear “Baby Sharks” over and over again. Or just play some of your favorite music.

No matter what you’re listening to, your child’s hearing new words and new sentences. We like to listen to relaxing music to unwind at the end of the day or some upbeat music to have a dance party mid-day.

6. Skip “Baby Talk”

When you’re talking with your little one, avoid the common “baby talk” you often hear. I don’t mean that you need to speak to your child on a scholarly level, but do speak with correct grammar.

I suggest against adding “y” sounds to the end of words such as “walky”, “nappy”, “drinky”. Also, don’t abbreviate words for your little ones.

Although it’s so adorable when your little one says “wa wa” for water, or “hungy” for hungry, avoid the temptation to repeat these yourself.

Babies naturally abbreviate and change words as their language is developing.

However, as parents, we serve as role models of proper language for our children. It’s our job to illustrate correct pronunciation and grammar to help toddlers learn to talk.

We need to model the right way to speak for our rapidly developing toddlers.

7. Expand on Words They Say

When your child says one or two words expand on it. For example, if your little one points and says “puppy”, expand the sentence.

You can continue the sentence by saying “yes, I see the brown dog. He is wagging his tail, he looks happy”.

Or, if your baby says “go”, you can complete their sentence by saying “yes, it is time to go”.

When you expand your child’s sentences, you’re acknowledging that you’re listening and understand what they are saying. This is crucial once toddler tantrums start developing!

When you show your toddler you understand what they’re saying, you help build their confidence to keep talking. Also, you’ll help prevent and de-escalate tantrums because they won’t feel frustrated or unheard.

Additionally, when you expand on your toddler’s sentences, you’re increasing their vocabulary even further. This helps them learn sentence structure and more adjectives.

Keep Talking!

Before you know it your toddler will talk more often and more clearly. If you don’t understand your child at first, don’t give up.

Try to pay attention and put into context what your child is saying. Our little one will frequently use gestures along with speaking which helps put things into context.

Remember, every baby grows and learns at their own pace. However, if you are ever concerned your child is behind, speak with your pediatrician. If intervention is needed, early intervention is the most effective.

So start chatting away even if it feels silly.

Before you know it your little one will be joining in the conversation and repeating everything they hear!

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24 thoughts on “How to Encourage Your Toddler to Talk With 7 Effective Tips”

  1. These are all such great tips and I definitely made the effort to do them with both of my children. My son took a bit longer than my daughter to talk, but once he started…well, he hasn’t stopped yet 😆
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Your post reassured this new momma that I’m on the right track! Definitely picked up some tips I can easily implement too, such as “skip the baby talk.” It’s so hard for me not to say things like “nappy” or “dipey” and I totally see how this could hinder things a bit. Thanks for pointing these things out!

  3. I wish I had this list when my oldest was little. He refused to talk until his baby sister started talking, and then he only started so he could correct her when she said things wrong, lol!

  4. Reading has helped us too much. Were 18 months now, and vocabulary is growing pretty constantly. It’s so fun to see their brain grow!

  5. These are really good tips! Reading is so important! As are obviously all your other tips too, but reading is key to vocabulary development basically all through life. My kids are trilingual, which has been a challenge of its own.. But its through constant chatter and encouragement that we’ve gotten where we are.

    1. Mindful Mama Health

      Wow that is really impressive that your kids are trilingual! I imagine that was challenging early on, but will certainly pay off in the long run!

    1. Mindful Mama Health

      Thank you! Yes, you’re absolutely correct! The more they are exposed to language, the more they will learn!

  6. This is an amazing list! I also feel so guilty that I am at work and can’t spend as much time with my little one! I will definitely start bringing him in the kitchen with me after work while I prep bottles and make dinner so we can get some bonding time in! Music is another thing that we always implement and I love that it’s on your list! My son gets so excited when I sing to him and he is even starting to recognize songs, even at 7 months old! Thanks for sharing!!

  7. I always tried to avoid “baby talk” of incoherent ramblings. Instead, I tried to speak to them in actual words, reading often, having conversations (even though I knew they had no idea what I was saying). Kids pick up on every little thing so being intentional with our words – even before they can speak – is so important!

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