When kids realize they can start talking, most of them explode with language. If yours doesn’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem, but it’s important to understand typical language development by age to ensure your child isn’t falling behind.
If you notice your child’s language capabilities aren’t developing at the typical pace, there are some measures you can take to help. And, if you see developmental issues early, you can address them and hopefully lessen their impact.
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When Should a Toddler Start Talking?
Toddlers typically begin talking by the age of two. They’ll start saying simple words like “mom” or “doggie” and can follow basic requests like “wave hello!”
By the time a toddler is three, she’s able to compose simple sentences such as “where toy?” Strangers should understand these basic communications, even though your child may struggle to express some words.
Here’s a basic breakdown:
- By 24-30 months: child speaks in correct sentences
What Are Some Tips If Your Toddler Struggles to Talk?
A 2016 study found that when picture books are read aloud to children, they’re exposed to a broader vocabulary than when adults speak to them. Reading to your child as often as possible each day is the best way to encourage talking and language development.
Reading one book each day until kindergarten results in kids being exposed to 1.4 million more words than children who aren’t read to.
Limit Screen Time
One study found that language delays can occur in 18-month-olds as a result of increased screen time. Interacting with other people is much better for language development.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises no more than one hour staring at a device per day for children aged 2-5, with even less time for younger kids.
Keeping your child off screens and interacting with others is an excellent measure for enhancing their language and vocabulary skills.
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Talking to your children as often as possible makes it easier for them to pick up on language. Even if your toddler can’t yet verbally communicate, you want to talk to them as if they can.
Narrate basic daily activities to explain to your child what you’re doing. You can also sing to your toddler!
As a parent, you can name items for your children, so they start to understand how to refer to the world around them. If your toddler points to an item they want, such as a stuffed animal, name that item and then give it to them as requested.
Slowly, this will help your child piece together what words mean.
Expand on Responses
Expanding on a child’s responses means elaborating on any words they’ve said. If your child points to a cup of juice and says: “juice!” you can respond with: “yes, a tall glass of apple juice.” This helps them with complete sentences.
Additionally, if your child says an incorrect sentence, such as “the juice yummy,” you can correct it: “the juice is yummy.”
Give The Child Choices
Giving your toddler a choice between two different items and asking them to make that choice, such as “do you want Mr. Bear or Mrs. Giraffe?” forces your child to think about what words to use in response.
If they respond with a gesture, ask them to use words. This forces them to think about the correct words as they relate to describing objects and is terrific for their language development.
When Should You See a Pediatrician
Using these efforts doesn’t guarantee proper language development. Language delay typically involves:
- Difficulty putting together a sentence
- Not talking by the age of 2
- Limited vocabulary for their age
- Difficulty following directions
In these cases, it’s time to consult a pediatrician. Possible reasons for this delay can involve hearing impairments and intellectual disabilities. You’ll want to make sure these are addressed right away.
If your pediatrician can’t entirely solve the issue, your toddler may need to see a child psychologist, speech pathologist, or audiologist. These professionals can help provide you with solutions so your child begins talking well.
Take Home Message
When your toddler begins to talk, it’s a very exciting time! As a parent, it’s your responsibility to encourage proper speech and expose your child to many different words.
Some language delays are normal, but at some point, you may need to consult a professional. Keeping track of your child’s progress relative to typical milestones at their age helps you identify if progress is moving too slowly.
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