Narrate: Explain everything to your child. You can do this during play time or even during daily activities. You can turn a simple task into a learning time for your child. While cleaning the kitchen you could say: “This is the broom. Mommy is sweeping. The floor is dirty.” Talk about everything, even when you think your child is not listening to you. If your little one is in the same room with you TALK TALK TALK! You can also describe what your child is doing while he /she is doing it.
Ask questions: Ask questions that your child can answer. Asking difficult questions can just lead to frustration. Children learn to answer “What’s that?” before learning to answer other questions. Try to stay away from asking questions that you don’t know the answer to. For example, stay away from asking: “Did you like your dinner?”. Instead you could ask your child: “What did you have to eat?”.
Emphasize new words: This is how children learn new words and build their vocabulary. When using new words around your little one, point to the word so that he / she has a visual model. Reading books is a good way to work on this.
Expand: Expand on what your child says to you. For example, if your child says “car” you could say back to him / her: “blue car”, “big car”, “car up” “car down”, “car fast”, etc. This will help your little one to use longer phrases and sentences.
Get on their level: Your kiddo will be more likely to imitate your speech if he / she can see you. If your child is on the floor during tummy time, do the same thing and lay on your stomach facing your child. If your child is sitting on the floor, sit in front of him / her. If your child is playing at the table, sit across from him / her. Make sure to sit in front of your little one so that he / she can see your face which will help him / her see how you move your mouth to say different words and sounds.
Give your child time to respond: This can sometimes be hard to remember. Sometimes it seems easier to answer the question ourselves. Try to stay away from doing this for your child. Give him / her time to respond. Wait 5-10 seconds to see if your little one can respond on his / her own.
Don’t underestimate your child’s abilities: Your child can understand simple language. Using baby talk is not necessary and could impact his / her ability to say certain words correctly. Try not to use words like these: “baba” for bottle, “blankie” for blanket, etc.
Use simple language: Keep your language simple when your child is starting to communicate. Use simple phrases and sentences to help him / her understand what you are saying. For example, when you are done playing say: “Clean up time” not “I want you to clean up your toys now.” Remember, you want to expand on what your child says, not speak 5 words ahead of your child. This will just confuse him / her.
Give choices: Start with easy choices. Use two different objects: one that he REALLY likes and one that he REALLY dislikes. Hold up both objects to show your child what you are referring to. After he / she grasps the concept of this, start using more choices throughout the day.
Slow down: We live in a fast paced world. We listen to songs with fast lyrics, watch Jimmy John’s freaky fast commercial, and play computer games with fast blinking lights. Sometimes we can forget how important it is to slow down. Slowing down your speech will improve your little one’s ability to understand you and help him / her mimic your speech.